Amyloid acceptance

A new challenge to the theory regarding the place of proteinaceous materials known as amyloids present in the brains of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients could open up a route to novel therapeutics if proven correct. Sheena Radford and colleagues at the University of Leeds have shown that amyloid fibers are not in fact inert but could be toxic, with shorter fibers being more potent than longer ones. "We've revisited an old suspect with very surprising results," says Radford, "Whilst we've only looked in detail at three of the 30 or so proteins that form amyloid in human disease, our results show that the fibres they produce are indeed toxic to cells especially when they are fragmented into shorter fibres."