What is it about?

In Alzheimer’s disease patients, the protein amyloid-beta (Aβ) clumps up in the brain to form so-called fibrils. This has a toxic effect on the surrounding nerve cells. It is believed that immune cells compact the Aβ fibrils into what are known as plaques. It is now possible to track the development of these microscopically small structures in human using infrared microscopy.

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Why is it important?

Aβ is the focus in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. A central approach in the search for a cure is dissolving the plaques in the patients’ brains. The new findings indicate that the development of plaques could be stopped at an early stage by preventing the formation of oligomers. These are considered to be particularly harmful to the brain. The toxic effect of Aβ could thus be minimised with suitable drugs.


It has previously not been possible to directly observe the development of plaques. By combining methods from medicine and physics, new possibilities are now opening up. We are delighted to see that interdisciplinary approaches promote science as a whole!

Dominik Röhr
Ruhr-Universitat Bochum

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Label-free vibrational imaging of different Aβ plaque types in Alzheimer’s disease reveals sequential events in plaque development, Acta Neuropathologica Communications, December 2020, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1186/s40478-020-01091-5.
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