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Dec 15, 2008
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Oligomerix: Tau tapping

The primary focus of most drug discovery in Alzheimer's disease has been on the large intraneuronal plaques of beta amyloid or the neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein. Oligomerix Inc. is working on microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT)(tau)(FTDP-17), but a step earlier, before the tangles form. The company believes its work may result in disease-modifying therapeutics, as well as assays for early diagnosis.

In a normal state, tau protein stabilizes axonal microtubules necessary for intracellular transport and maintaining the structure of neurons and synapses. In AD, tau becomes modified by hyperphosphorylation, favoring its dissociation from microtubules and leading to tau oligomerization and eventual formation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs).

Researchers have reported that the overexpression of soluble pre-tangle tau oligomers causes neuron loss, memory impairment and behavior deficits in animal models of AD, whereas accumulation of NFTs is not associated with these phenotypes.

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