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Starting Again on Alzheimer's

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.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.