Harvard team fingers missing protein as a key to Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's research has long been one of the most high-risk arenas in the drug R&D world. One of the most perplexing issues in the field is that while concentrations of a toxic protein are found in the brains of people with the disease, the same concentrations are also seen in people who don't get Alzheimer's. Now a group of scientists at Harvard say they may have found the reason why. The team concluded that a protein called REST--particularly active in the brains of fetuses and now emerging as a key gene regulator in older brains--also appears to protect neurons in the elderly. And they're in particularly short supply in victims of Alzheimer's. The work suggests a new route for researchers in the field looking to advance new therapies for millions of patients. Story