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Detection of human tau protein aggregation

Delphine Jaga, Cisbio Bioassays, France, and Franka Maurer, BMG LABTECH, Germany, 09/2015

The amount of people who will develop a neurodegeneration disease later in life is increasing with every year. Countless research projects all over the world investigate how neurodegeneration starts and what mechanisms come into effect. It is hoped that a detailed understanding of how a maybe small compound triggers an avalanche will give the possibility to find disease treatments as well as disease prevention.

The company Cisbio has developed an assay to detect and quantify tau aggregates in brain tissue. Tau is a protein that is important for the strength of the cytoskeleton. It binds to microtubule structures and regulates its composition. Abnormal tau protein leads to a collapse of structures. As tau is present all over the body, collapse of structures can also happen in the brain and plaques will be developed. This is typical for diseases such as Alzheimer's. It is assumed that the level of a patient's tau protein can be used as an indicator of a neurodegeneration state.

The assay identifies tau aggregates and can be applied to cell cultures, brain tissues, and recombinant proteins. Only a sample volume of 10 µl is needed. With the help of the PHERAstar FS microplate reader, set to perform HTRF® readouts, the assay is specific enough to discriminate tau aggregates between early stages of tau fibrillization.

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