Narrator: This is Science Today. Amyloid plaques have long been thought to be the cause of Alzheimer's disease, but scientists have puzzled over whether and how amyloid formation actually kills cells and causes disease. According to a study led by research scientist Ratnesh Lal of the University of California , Santa Barbara , the answer may come from misshapen, misfolded proteins that damage cell membranes and disrupt their electrical activity.
Lal: This is a paradigm shift where we are looking at the basic cause of the diseases which are related to amyloids and that range from Alzheimer's to cystic fibrosis and so and so.
Narrator: Using a technique called atomic force microscopy, Lal and his colleagues discovered these proteins folded into a well-defined structure called the ion channel, which is in the cell membrane.
Lal: All of the misfolding happens when they interact with a cell membrane and when they misfold, they become toxic. And now, we are looking for how to control the activity of the channels trying to figure out what/how you can modify it.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.