The clumping of beta-amyloid protein into plaques that clog up the brain is a key hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Much research into the causes and treatment of the disease relies on techniques that characterize this process. Now, a new study challenges a commonly held view about the shape and composition of the initial structures that form when the beta-amyloid molecules come together.

It finds that a technique used by Alzheimer’s disease researchers to analyze the beta-amyloid clumps as they initially come together is flawed because of conclusions it draws about the shapes of the aggregated proteins and the number of molecules they contain. The technique is called SDS-PAGE.

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