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C. Synthetic Biology: An Emerging, Exciting Discipline

Narrator: This is Science Today. A link has been found between the brain plaques that form in Alzheimer's Disease and the deposits in the retina found in age-related macular degeneration. Lincoln Johnson, a research biologist at the University of California , Santa Barbara 's Neuroscience Research Institute, co-led the study

Johnson: We had been studying deposits in the eyes of people with macular degeneration for quite some time because there are abnormal deposits in the eyes of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and those deposits are called drusen. During the course of our studies, one of the objectives was to determine what their molecular composition was

Narrator: The researchers discovered that drusen contained very high concentrations of a protein called amyloid beta - one of the major components in Alzheimer's plaques.

Johnson: If an individual has macular degeneration, they do not necessarily have Alzheimer's and vice versa. But what we've shown is that the basic disease process going on in the brain is very similar to what's going on in the eye.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.