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B. A New Approach Towards Understanding Degenerative Diseases

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California , Santa Barbara have discovered a new approach to understanding the cellular processes of Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases. Research scientist Ratnesh Lal, who led the study, says misfolded proteins in the cell membrane and changes in the electrical properties of cells, provide the explanation for the cell degeneration.

Lal: So all the effort in the last thirty-five years or so have been to see how the plaque causes the disease. So we are confident that you do not need the plaque to have the toxicity that you see in the cell. So then we're going to the actual cell level and show that indeed that's what happens.

Narrator: Understanding the basic cause of the formation of these plaques found in Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases may lead to new therapeutics and diagnostic techniques.

Lal: So now the point is, you can control the activity of these structures by using chemicals and those chemicals are basically drug molecules.

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