Growing amyloid fibrils in the lab

Amyloid fibrils have varying molecular structures, as Robert Tycko, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, discovered during in vitro studies. In this interview, recorded at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2018, held in Chicago, IL, he discusses the potential for structural differences in brain amyloid to influence the severity and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. There are difficulties associated with testing the molecular structure of brain amyloid: measurements require large samples that have stable carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures, neither of which are present in living brain tissue. Dr Tycko discusses his ingenious solution to this issue: growing amyloid fibrils from brain amyloid ‘seeds’ with isotopically-labelled peptides. This technique both magnifies the sample volume and makes it possible to analyze molecularly.

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