Share this story...
Latest News

Have Arizona scientists discovered an Alzheimer’s breakthrough?

LISTEN: An Alzheimer's Breakthrough from ASU-Banner

PHOENIX — A group of Arizona scientists believe they identified a compound that could block a protein that causes early damage to the brain’s memory chamber, essentially slamming the brakes on Alzheimer’s.

Scientists at the Arizona State University-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center identified the protein as the Oligomeric-Amyloid-Beta, which is believed to go after mitochondria in the hippocampus, where memory is generated.

The protein attaches itself to cells — which are important to the brain and body and consume an incredible amount of energy to do their job with the brain’s communicative functions — and works to destroy them.

Scientists believe the Oligomeric-Amyloid-Beta is the single bad actor that enables Alzheimer’s to take hold — and ultimately destroy — the brain.

“We know that Alzheimer’s disease starts in our 30s and 40s,” said Dr. Diego Mastroeni, a scientist and researcher at ASU-Banner. “These are some the earliest changes in the mitochondria. Can we do something to protect the mitochondria?”

The answer, according to Mastroeni, is yes.

Sidney Hecht, a researcher with the ASU Biodesign Institute, came up with a compound that would destroy the Oligomeric-Amyloid-Beta and protect mitochondrial cell function.

“When this chemical compound came in, it showed incredible results,” Mastroeni said.

“By slowing down this disease, by inhibiting the toxic species of [the Oligomeric-Amyloid-Beta], maybe we have a chance, maybe we can give people 10 to 15 years before they get the [Alzheimer’s] symptoms,” he added.

Mastroeni said he hopes this research can be used to treat people, such as with an over-the-counter medication that would block the effects of Alzheimer’s “until it’s so late in life that it really doesn’t matter.”

“Protecting the mitochondria might be a very nice way of protecting ourselves. — not only from neurodegenerative diseases, but all aging diseases, and not just the brain but the body too,” he said.

“It’s such an important compound for every biological process.”

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit

Show Podcasts and Interviews

Reporter Stories

Related Links