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Watching the build up of beta amyloid in the brain of a mouse with Alzheimer's-like disease

11 December 2019

Sight of Alzheimer's

What does Alzheimer’s disease look like? Unlike some physical conditions, like a broken arm, it can be hard to visualise mental illness. That’s just one reason why Alzheimer’s, which causes gradual decline in mental function, is hard to study. A new approach has visualised a whole mouse brain over several months as it develops Alzheimer’s, highlighting the accumulation of beta-amyloid, a substance that clogs the brain, leading to memory loss and damage. Seeing this progression will help researchers identify where the disease takes hold, and how it might be tackled. It revealed the memory structures that show the earliest susceptibility to accumulations, and the complex networks that develop over time. They were also able to show the beta-amyloid directly causing malfunctioning in part of the brain called the mammillary body, and observe a treatment inhibit its deposition – progress which could one day help keep brains clear of this damaging debris.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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