Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Greengard has discovered a new way for researchers to target Alzheimer's disease. Beta amyloid, the plaque that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, has long been targeted by researchers. Now Greengard has discovered a new protein that is needed to make beta amyloid, reports the New York Times' Gina Kolata. Many Alzheimer's drugs currently being studied target the enzyme gamma secretase, which helps make beta amyloid. However, Kolata says, gamma secretase also serves crucial functions in the body, and efforts to block it have caused other problems. Greengard's "gamma secretase activating protein" tells the enzyme to make beta amyloid, and since it's used by the enzyme for this purpose only, suppressing it doesn't have any effect on other gamma secretase activity, Kolata says. Greengard has so far only experimented with blocking this new protein in mice, but has had some encouraging results, which appear in Nature this week.
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