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2018 Alzheimer's Association Research Fellowship (AARF)

A New Approach to Visualize the Interaction Between Aß and its Receptors

Can an understanding of how beta-amyloid attaches to nerve cells reveal new ways to prevent its harmful effects?

Ladan Amin
Boston University
Boston, MA - United States


One of the hallmark features of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of harmful protein fragments in the brain. One type of protein, called beta-amyloid, can attach to proteins (called receptors) on the surfaces of nerve cells. Beta-amyloid can attach to nerve cell receptors in different ways, including as a single molecule and as clumps of the beta-amyloid.  Once attached, beta-amyloid continues to clump this into larger aggregates and may disrupt nerve cell activity. It is as yet unclear, how different forms and sizes of beta amyloid clumps may physically interact with different nerve cell receptors.

Research Plan

Dr. Ladan Amin and colleagues will study how different forms of beta-amyloid interact with five different nerve cell receptors. Using advanced microscopic techniques. Dr. Amin will directly observe beta-amyloid interacting with the receptors in nerve cell membranes. The research team plans to evaluate how different forms of beta amyloid are distributed across receptors. Dr. Amin also plans to identify other proteins attached to beta-amyloid and whether these factors influence how quickly it aggregates on nerve cell surfaces.


The results of this study could provide additional information on how beta-amyloid begins to accumulate and attach to nerve cells in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s. It may also reveal the types of nerve cell receptors that contribute most to harmful beta-amyloid protein plaques are a hallmark brain change in Alzheimer’s. This information could inform the development of novel, therapeutic small molecules that disrupt harmful interactions between beta-amyloid and nerve cell receptors.

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