When neuroscientists Robert Moir and Rudolph Tanzi decided to conduct a research on antimicrobial peptides, they discovered quite interestingly that part of the ancient immune system plays an important role in protecting brain. While surfing through papers, they came across a molecule called LL-37 that looked like molecule Amyloid-Beta that is found in people with Alzheimer's. Amyloid-Beta forms sticky plates that tend to build up in brains of people with dementia. This is when they decided to conduct research on how innate immune system is linked to Alzheimer's.
Their hypothesis was that amyloid-beta is not a toxic waste product, rather good and formed around the brain for self-defense during such brain conditions. By 2010, they demonstrated that amyloid was really good at killing bacteria and by 2016, they showed it doing similar things in worms and mice. And finally, they were able to show that during Alzheimer's, brain's immune system goes awry and the tangles and plaques are a part of that system. Scientists have come out with several possibilities of why this happens like system is overreacting to viruses and bacteria that get into the brain or getting muddled and attacking healthy cells. That result can be quite useful as if either of the possibilities is true then it is possible to interrupt the cause of Alzheimer's before it happens.
By: Neha Maheshwari