JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they have created a technique that allows them to remove amyloid plaque from the brains of live animals suffering Alzheimer's disease.
The Mayo Clinic scientists in Jacksonville, Fla., said their accomplishment might eventually lead to reversal of Alzheimer's disease pathology.
The scientists said their technique is based on the unexpected finding that when the brain's immune cells are activated by the interleukin-6 protein, they actually remove plaques instead of causing them or making them worse.
The research was performed in a model of Alzheimer's disease established in mice.
"Our study highlights the notion that manipulating the brain's immune response could be translated into clinically tolerated regimens for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases," Pritam Das, co-author of the study, said.
Das and colleagues made their unexpected discovery when they initially set out to prove the activation of the brain's immune cells trigger inflammation, making the disease worse. Instead, they found when the cells were activated by IL-6, they cleared the plaques from the brains.
The research is reported in the online edition of The FASEB Journal.