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See Inside February/March 2006

The Shape of Alzheimer's

Researchers are a step closer to understanding how Alzheimer's disease takes shape—literally.

A hallmark of Alzheimer's is the presence of protein aggregates in the brain known as plaques. They are made up of various lengths and conformations of the beta amyloid protein. The proteins link end to end, forming long, threadlike structures called fibrils. Now Roland Riek and his colleagues at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, working with scientists at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and the F. Hoffmann–La Roche company, have constructed a three-dimensional model of the fibrils based on their own experiments and earlier data published by others.

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