London, Jan 26 (IANS): Scientists have discovered the use of a simple single-celled amoeba to understand the function of human proteins in causing Alzheimer's disease.
A single-cell amoeba can equip scientists with a much better understanding of how human proteins cause Alzheimer's disease, that too without the need for animal testing.
Researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London, revealed how the use of an amoeba would enable a better understanding of the function of Alzheimer's disease-associated proteins in the cell.
This could lead to the ultimate goal of developing improved treatments for the degenerative disease, said the study published in the Journal of Cell Science.
Mutations in presenilin proteins cause inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease.
These proteins also play a major role in the age-related onset of the condition.
"This discovery allows us to examine the role for the human presenilin 1 protein, without the use of animal testing. It is amazing that so simple an organism lends itself to the study of such a complex disease," said professor Robin Williams from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway.
"Our work on the amoeba 'Dictyostelium' shows we can successfully use this simple model to try to better understand the roles of proteins and genes involved in Alzheimer's disease and other forms of neurodegeneration," added Richard Killick from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College.
Presenilin proteins have been extensively analysed but these experiments cause problems as deleting the proteins in animal cells causes a loss of viability and blocks the development.