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Posted: 08/21/13 8:20 AM



Recent research on Alzheimer’s disease suggests that the illness may be more common than previously thought, especially in advanced old age. With life spans extending, research into the prevention and treatment of the disease has become that much more important.

Researchers from the University of Rochester have pursued an increasingly credible hypothesis that copper consumption may play a role in triggering Alzheimer’s disease. In findings published August 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, they showed that exposing the brain to copper not only spurs the production of the amyloid beta protein that characterizes the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers, but also slows the brain’s efforts to clear out the plaque.

“It is clear that, over time, copper’s cumulative effect is to impair the systems by which amyloid beta is removed from the brain. This impairment is one of the key factors that cause the protein to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Rashid Deane, the study’s lead author.

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