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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is amyloidosis?

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    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Amyloidosis is a general term which refers to a number of diseases. They have one thing in common which is related to protein structure.

    For a protein to carry out its biological function it needs to adopt a precise three-dimensional shape - this process is called “protein folding”.

    Sometimes, for reasons that are not well understood, and probably vary depending on the protein concerned, proteins adopt a “wrong”  three-dimensional shape - they “misfold”, forming amyloid. Amyloid, especially the early intermediates in its formation, is cytotoxic (it kills cells).

    Common amyloidoses (with the name of the amyloid-forming protein in brackets) are: Alzheimer's Disease (Abeta), Parkinson's Disease (alpha-synuclein) and, to some extent, Type 2 Diabetes (amylin/IAPP).

    A lot of reseach effort is being invested in understanding the process of amyloid formation. At the moment it is at the “basic science” stage - once we know more that knowledge will help in developing treatments for the amyloidoses.

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