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A Replacement Therapy May Be Able To Rescue The Brain From Alzheimer's

A protein replacement therapy may rescue the brain from Alzheimer's, so says a UC researcher whose new study was published Monday.

Professor of Neurology Alberto Espay is frustrated the FDA recently approved a drug he says is based on a faulty theory. He says the problem isn't clumps of plaque but missing liquid protein. He says this protein is needed in its original, soluble form to keep the brain healthy.

Sometimes the protein clumps into amyloid plaques but Espay says that's not the problem.

"No matter how high the amyloid gets, if individuals are able to keep a level of the soluble fraction of the product, which is the normal protein, they can do very well. And that is the opposite theory to what's prevailing, what's been with us all along," says Espay.

UC's study conducted in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, appears in the journal EClinical Medicine (published by the Lancet).

Espay says he understands why scientists got confused when doing autopsy studies. "Of course we were seeing this abnormal clumps of proteins. So it was natural and local to think this was the problem."

Since then doctors have focused on treatments to eliminate the plaques, including prescribing the recently approved drug.

But Espay says a replacement therapy, not getting rid of the plaques is the right approach. UC and Karolinska are working on one and testing their findings on animal models.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.