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Protein present in brain associated with frontotemporal dementia: Study

ANI Dec 09, 2023

A protein present in the brains of patients suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD) has been identified by an international team of researchers, which includes specialists from Indiana University School of Medicine. This finding opens up a new target for possible treatments for FTD.

The National Institutes of Health states that injury to neurons in the brain's frontal and temporal lobes causes frontal lobe dementia (FTD). Symptoms of this kind of dementia usually appear in people between the ages of 25 and 65. These symptoms can include odd behaviours, emotional issues,

Neurodegenerative disorders, including dementias and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), occur when specific proteins form amyloid filaments in the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord.

The multidisciplinary team of researchers--including members from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology, the IU School of Medicine and the University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology--found that in cases of FTD, a protein called TAF15 forms these amyloid filaments in the cells of the brain and the spinal cord.

On December 6, they published their findings in Nature.

Cryo-EM structure of TAF15 amyloid filaments as discovered in patients with frontotemporal dementia. Bernardino Ghetti, MD is a Distinguished Professor at the IU School of Medicine and has been studying neurodegenerative dementias for 50 years.

As a lead neuropathologist on the project, Ghetti and his team studied the protein aggregates from brains donated by four people who had frontotemporal dementia and motor weakness.

Together with their colleagues in the UK, IU researchers used neuropathologic and molecular techniques and cutting-edge cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) at atomic resolution to discover the presence of the amyloid filaments made of TAF15 protein in multiple brain areas. However, it is important to note that TAF15 amyloid affects also nerve cells of the motor system.

"This discovery represents an important breakthrough that recognises TAF15 as a potential target for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies toward a lesser-known form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with frontotemporal dementia," Ghetti said.

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