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In a breakthrough with important implications for research on Alzheimer's disease (AD), scientists at the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville (FL) have developed a new mouse model that more closely resembles the disease as it appears in humans. The new "double transgenic" mouse, the first to include both the brain plaques and tangles associated with AD, is expected to contribute considerably to knowledge about the course of the disease and will help in further development and testing of potential therapies.
The research, supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), is reported in the August 24, 2001, issue of Science by Michael Hutton, Ph.D., Dennis Dickson, M.D., Jada Lewis, Ph.D., Shu-Hui Yen, Ph.D., and Eileen McGowan, Ph.D. of Mayo Jacksonville.
"The development of this type of animal model for Alzheimer's disease is critical to our success in designing effective therapies for tangles and cell death," says Stephen Snyder, Ph.D., Etiology of Alzheimer's Disease program, NIA. "This is a major step, one that I expect can help move us forward greatly in our understanding of AD."
The model was developed by cross-breeding mice with genetic mutations in the proteins associated with plaques and tangles -- the tau protein involved in neurofibrillary tangles and the amyloid precursor protein (APP) involved in development of amyloid plaques. The new strain of mice, called TAPP (for tau/APP), shows evidence of intensified tau-related tangles in regions of the brain vulnerable in AD, a finding that may help scientists explain the so-far elusive connection between amyloid pathology and tangle formation. The Mayo report appears in Science with findings from Swiss researchers also addressing the amyloid and tau connection.
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