Narrator: This is Science Today. Three molecules that appear to inhibit a key perpetrator of Alzheimer's disease have been discovered by researchers at the University of California , Santa Barbara . Ken Kosik, co-director of the university's Neuroscience Research Institute says each of the molecules discovered protects a brain protein called “tau”.
Kosik: We all have it in our brain, this tau protein, what happens to make this normal protein go wrong in this disease, it starts to collect from its normal distribution in the cell to forming an inclusion in the cell called the neurofibrilliary tangle. It's a structure made up of fibrils that just gradually strangle the cell, they just gradually kill the neuron.
Narrator: While their findings are not yet ready for the clinic, Kosik says scientific research moves a lot faster today.
Kosik: When some of the critical genes and proteins were first identified in Alzheimer's disease, three, four, five years elapsed before we were actually able to clone the genes that were responsible for these abnormal proteins. Now, that happens within days.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.