A Toxic Cascade: When the Brain Consumes Itself [Slide Show]

In the brain, bent-out-of-shape proteins can cause devastating neurological diseases

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In recent years neuroscientists have come upon an astonishing revelation: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lou Gehrig’s and other major brain diseases may have a similar underlying cause. They may all result from the mis-folding of proteins in a process similar to the one linked to mad cow and other prion-based diseases. The growing number of research findings that point to this conclusion are set out in “Seeds of Dementia,” by Lary C. Walker and Mathias Jucker in the May issue. The accompanying slide show illustrates this cascading process of one protein corrupting another, leading to the buildup of toxic aggregations, which underlie diseases that cause brain cell degeneration.

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