Yeast are first cells known to cure themselves of prions

Yeast cells can sometimes reverse the protein misfolding and clumping associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, according to new research from the University of Arizona.

The new finding contradicts the idea that once prion proteins have changed into the shape that aggregates, the change is irreversible.

“It’s believed that when these aggregates arise that cells cannot get rid of them,” said Tricia Serio, UA professor and head of the department of molecular and cellular biology. “We’ve shown that’s not the case. Cells can clear themselves of these aggregates.”

Prions are proteins that change into a shape that triggers their neighbors to change, also. In that new form, the proteins cluster. The aggregates, called amyloids, are associated with diseases including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s.

“The prion protein is kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” said Serio, senior author of the paper published today in the open-access journal eLife. “When you get Hyde, all the prion protein that gets made after that is folded in that bad way.”

When colonies of baker’s yeast cells that contain clumped prion proteins (colonies of white cells on left) are stressed by high temperatures, some can convert the aggregated prion proteins to the non-clumping form of the protein (red cells in the colonies the right). Credit: Serio laboratory/ UA molecular and cellular biology

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Powerful Self-Portraits Reveal Artist’s Descent Into Alzheimer’s Disease

n 1995, at the age of 61, American artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In response to the illness, the London-based artist immediately began to paint an ambitious series of self-portraits. From the time of his diagnosis to 2000, when he was admitted to a nursing home, Utermohlen created a powerful documentation of his painful descent into dementia as a way to try to better understand his condition.

Carta de uma mãe com Alzheimer para sua filha.

Querida filha, escute com atenção o que tenho para falar. O dia que esta doença se apoderar totalmente de mim e eu não for mais a mesma, tenha paciência e me compreenda. Quando eu derrubar comida sobre minha roupa e esquecer como calçar meus sapatos, não perca sua paciência. Lembre-se das horas que passei lhe ensinado essas mesmas coisas. Se ao conversar com você repito as mesmas palavras e você já sabe o final da historia, não me interrompa e me escuta. Quando era pequena tive que contar-lhe mil vezes a mesma historia para que você dormisse. Quando fizer minhas necessidades em mim, não sinta vergonha nem fique brava, pois não posso controlar-me. Pense em quantas vezes, quando era uma menina, te limpei e te ajudei quando você também não podia controlar-se. Não se sinta triste ao me ver assim. É possível que eu já não entenda suas palavras, mas sempre entenderei seus abraços, seus carinhos e seus beijos. Te desejo o melhor para sua vida com todo o meu coração.

—  Sua mãe, desconhecido.

Insight on why people with Down syndrome invariably develop Alzheimer’s disease

A study by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute reveals the process that leads to changes in the brains of individuals with Down syndrome–the same changes that cause dementia in Alzheimer’s patients. The findings, published in Cell Reports, have important implications for the development of treatments that can prevent damage in neuronal connectivity and brain function in Down syndrome and other neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Caption: Amyloid plaques are found in the brains of people with Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.  Credit: Juan Gartner

Te veía mientras no me veías
abstraída en tu mundo
ayer te traje chocolates
pero no los notaste.
Anteayer  te quise mostrar unas fotos
Pero no reconociste mi rostro…
Supongo que hoy tampoco.

Me acerqué, buscando tu mirada apagada
“Lo siento. Hoy no te traigo nada”
mi sonrisa era triste.
Entonces por un instante, tu mirada se aclaraba
solo un momento
casi pensé que me reconociste
Pero no lo dijiste.

Ganó la Bruma


The Heartbreaking And Beautiful Faces Of People Living With Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a far-reaching condition, one that rips through not only the lives of those who have personally suffered through the diagnosis, but the lives of family members, friends and caretakers who brush up against the illness as well. It can transform a loved one into a stranger, tunneling through relationships, memories and routines until the familiar slips bleakly into the unknown. A brother, grandmother or husband’s descent into dementia becomes an identity in itself. They are no longer themselves; they are a captive to disease.

Amsterdam-based photographer Alex ten Napel became captivated with the dissolution of dignity so often associated with dementia. In his series of black-and-white portraits, simply titled “Alzheimer,” he sought to explore the experience of “wasting away,” in order to ponder existence in such a state. The results are equal parts heartbreaking and beautiful, shedding light on the very human qualities of encroaching mortality.

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Toxic Tau Of Alzheimer’s May Offer A Path To Treatment

After years of setbacks, Alzheimer’s researchers are sounding optimistic again. The reason: a brain protein called tau.

At this year’s Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C., there are more than 100 papers on tau, which is responsible for the tangles that form in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. In the past, tau has received less attention than another protein called amyloid beta, which causes the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.

“Many people focused on amyloid beta for many years,” says Julia Gerson, a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Texas Medical Branch, who presented a paper on tau at the neuroscience meeting. “Now it’s coming out that tau might be more important.”

A tangle of protein (green) in this scanning electron micrograph of a brain cell of an Alzheimer’s patient lies within the cytoplasm (blue) of the cell. The tangle consists of clumps of a toxic form of tau.  Thomas J. Deerinck/Corbis