"Researchers in our lab are currently studying Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's disease you have a deposition of plaque which is called amyloid. Amyloid is like a sticky gum that gets into the brain. The graphic also shows microglia. Microglia are the clean-up crew for the brain. When they go in to clean this up, they start producing IL-1, TF alpha, and IL-6."
"We believe the key – the real hope – is to clear amyloid plaques before they contribute to the destruction of brain cells in the thinking areas of the brain," Lippa said. "Clearing out the amyloid is like clearing out the kindling before the fire starts. We are hopeful we can prevent Alzheimer's and the enormous suffering that surrounds this disease."
"To send messages to their neighbours (and on to the rest of the body), neurons use chemical transmitters that cross the gaps between cells. Here, amyloid plaques are like a traffic jam, blocking cell signalling. Connections between cells are lost - first in the hippocampus, the region in the brain for memory and learning. Neurons die and the affected brain tissue shrinks."
Their idea was that the brain was producing amyloid for much the same reason an oyster forms a pearl - for self-defense. "Maybe amyloid plaques are a brain pearl," Moir says, "a way for our body to trap and permanently sequester these invading pathogens."
METAMIA is a free database of analogy and metaphor. Anyone can contribute or search. The subject matter can be anything. Science is popular, but poetry is encouraged. The goal is to integrate our fluid muses with the stark literalism of a relational database. Metamia is like a girdle for your muses, a cognitive girdle.