Rusty brain worms

Iron is a mineral essential to life, but it can also cause damage. The role of iron deposits in the brain is thought to be involved in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's. Peter Sadler of the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK and Sandeep Verma of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India, are investigating how a malfunction of the blood transporter protein transferrin may be involved. They have now demonstrated that transferrin can clump together to form wormlike fibrils, which then release rust-like iron particles in the brain causing harm. The findings may one day provide a target for novel therapies.