Lessons Learned from Epidemic Spreading Shed Light on Neurodegenerative Disease

Propagation of protein pathology between molecules or even neurons has been demonstrated for several ALS-linked proteins, such as SOD1 and TDP-43 (see June 2013 news story, Dec 2012 news story). A new study published Nov 20 in PLOS Computational Biology applied models from human epidemic spreading, such as of the H1N1 virus in 2009, to gain insight on “spreading”of protein misfolding in the aging brain. Researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute in Montreal, Canada applied epidemic spreading models (ESMs) to Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Amyloid β (Aβ) datasets from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), and found that these models precisely describe propagation and deposition of misfolded proteins in the AD brain. The researchers now plan to integrate the influence of other factors such as vascular dysregulation into ESMs of misfolded protein propagation. Click here to read more about this original work.

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