New method for the detection of amyloid fibers

Center for Cooperative Research in Biomaterials (CIC biomaGUNE)
  • Newly developed a method for the detection of amyloid fibers
  • The breakthrough will help in the diagnostic of neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • This discovery makes possible to study the rate and conditions of fiber growth


A team of researchers, with participation of CIC biomaGUNE, CIC bioGUNE, University of Antwerp, University of Extremadura and University of Vigo, has developed a new method for the detection of amyloid fibers from proteins that are usually implicated in Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or those from prions.

Amyloid fibers are structures based on misfolded proteins that become organised as helicoidal fiber suprastructures. The misfolded proteins constituting the fibers are characterized by a strong interaction between each other, creating structures extraordinarily resistant to elimination. These fibers are observed in the encephalon of people affected by various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or prionic diseases (mad cow disease, Kuru, etc.), in which neuronal death occurs because of the presence of the fibers. One of the features that these diseases have in common is the accumulation and propagation of an incorrectly folded protein, that builds up precisely in the form of such amyloid fibers.

Healthy brain. Upon disease proggression, neurons die out gradually, generating cavities and atrophy of certain brain regions.

“Although the damage is done in the brain, it is believed that fibers also form in other parts of the body. Therefore, we can think of an analysis system to complement currently existing tests. From a more fundamental perspective, this technique allows us to carry out kinetic studies. This means we can investigate the rate of formation of the fibers under different conditions and, perhaps, understand which are the parameters that can accelerate the process or even those that can stop it”, explains Luis Liz-Marzán, scientific director of CIC biomaGUNE, where he also works as a researcher of the Ikerbasque program, and coordinator of the work entitled “Detection of Amyloid Fibrils in Parkinson´s Disease Using Plasmonic Chirality”.

The results of this work, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, open the door to new diagnostic methods for these neurodegenerative diseases, and perhaps to deeper insights into the factors influencing amyloid fiber formation. Deeper and deeper insights into this family of diseases are developed, casting increasing hopes for the future of many patients of neurodegenerative diseases.


Image credits:

Healthy brain image in the public domain, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

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