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Science Briefing

New theory on Alzheimer's

February 21, 2009|Times Staff and Wire Reports

Scientists proposed a new theory Wednesday of how Alzheimer's disease kills brain cells, suggesting that a chemical mechanism responsible for naturally pruning away unwanted cells during early brain development somehow gets hijacked.

Amyloid precursor protein, or APP -- a key building block in brain plaques found in Alzheimer's disease -- is the driving force behind the process, said Marc Tessier-Lavigne, executive vice president of research drug discovery at Genentech. His study appears in the journal Nature.

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