Brain injury is unsurprisingly one of the biggest risk factors for Alzheimer's and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a neurodegenerative condition occurring mostly in athletes who have undergone repeated concussions). Traumatic brain injury from physical activities or accidents has been found to initiate a misshapen form of a common protein called Tau in as little as 12 hours after the trauma, which can then set off a chain of degenerative events in the brain. Whilst normal tau proteins play an essential role in microtubules which are essentially the scaffolding of a cell (or neuron in this case), an incorrectly folded type can become a big problem.
New science hopes to tackle this issue with an antibody for the toxic tau variant, allowing it to be eliminated by the body before it can do further damage. The body doesn't innately recognise many misfolded proteins and as they are strongly connected to progressive neurological damage, antibodies towards particular harmful 'shapes' have been one proposed solution in dementia research.
"Our study shows that an early neurodegenerative process induced by the toxic tau protein can begin just hours after a traumatic brain injury. In both cell models of stress and in mouse models simulating sport- and military-related TBI, the production of this pathogenic protein, called cis P-tau, disrupts normal neurological functioning, spreads to other neurons and leads to widespread neuronal death. We have developed a potent monoclonal antibody that can prevent the onset of widespread neurodegeneration by identifying and neutralizing this toxic protein and restoring neurons' structural and functional abilities."
Read more at Medical Express