Washington, April 23 : Scientists at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) say that they have found an important molecular link between Alzheimer's disease and the development of the typical plaques in the brains of patients.
The researchers said that their latest study built on previous research that showed that in patients suffering from this incurable disease, the brain cells show an increase in the protein BACE1 or A-secretase.
Working under the direction of Bart De Strooper, and in collaboration with international experts, VIB researcher Sabastien Hubert and his colleagues looked into the cause of this increase.
The researchers checked the expression profiles of certain microRNA's, short pieces of RNA that regulate protein production.
Among patients with an increase in the BACE1 protein, there was a significant reduction in miR-29a and miR-29b-1.
The researchers said that that observation suggested the possible role of certain miRNA's in the increase of BACE1, and in the formation of plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.
They said that the significance of their study lay in the fact that it raised hopes for a better diagnostic test, which might facilitate timely prescription of required medicines.
According to them, timely drug interventions may ensure a better quality of life for patients with Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers say that one big question that they now have before them is whether the microRNA's they checked during the study could form the basis of a future medicine.