TAU protein is a substance generally associated with the nervous system and brain. It participates mainly in the structural maintenance of neurons. However, when it degenerates and forms accumulations, the compound can damage and kill nearby neurons. This contributes to certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
These diseases produce various disorders ranging from memory loss, confusion, and in some cases, dementia or aggressive behavior. This is why it is vital to measure the levels of this protein to advance in the search for solutions to these disorders. The challenge for researchers has been precisely to find a method to determine these levels effectively.
Fortunately, today, there may be a way: the use of antibodies. These substances can present a valuable opportunity for science to diagnose TAU levels in a rapid, accurate, and minimally invasive way.
How Do Antibodies Help Measure TAU?
Until now, there were only two methods for measuring the protein in the brain. On the one hand, there are brain scans, but this procedure is not approved in humans. Besides, there is the measurement in the spinal fluid, but to do so requires a spinal tap, and this is an invasive procedure.
According to the journal Science Translational Medicine, a team of scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found a way by using antibodies. The test was done on mice, and a small group of people, and it aims to develop a simple method to do the measurement with just a blood test.
In the brain, most of this protein is found inside neurons, and the rest floats in the intra-neuronal fluid. This fluid receives constant blood flow, which is mixed with the protein. The problem is that the TAU disappears almost as soon as it reaches the blood, making it virtually undetectable.
In the investigation, a quantity of TAU was injected into the blood of the mice, and in less than nine minutes, half of the protein had disappeared. In a second test, an antibody was added that binds to the protein, and the half-life of TAU were extended to 24 hours. In subsequent experiments, the antibody continued to be administered to the mice, and within two days of the administration, the TAU levels rose to an easily detectable range.
In the human trial, the results were equally satisfactory. With the presence of antibody, TAU levels increased dramatically. The antibody acts like a magnifying glass, which amplifies the levels of the protein so that it can be seen easily. In 4 individuals with a tau disease known as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, their blood levels of TAU increased 50 to 100 times in 48 hours when the antibody was administered.
Are You Following These Lines of Research?
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