Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

In this image of neurons, tau proteins are stained red (Gerry Shaw / Wikipedia)

Scientists have taken detailed images of one of the proteins involved in Alzheimers Disease for the first time, which may help researchers create treatments for the disease.

Alzheimers is characterized by a buildup of two proteins, tau proteins inside of neurons and amyloid plaques on the outside. Healthy tau proteins look sort of like fiber-optic cables that help support neurons. But sometimes, those proteins become tangled, and the tangles can build up and warp the neuron's shape, rendering them useless.

Why it matters: Tau tangles have been implicated in a number of neuro-degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's Disease. These detailed images allow scientists to parse apart the molecular structure of the tangles, which could help them understand why the tangles happen, how they spread, and possibly even develop drugs to treat them.

What they did: The scientists, working at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, and the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis used a technique called cryo-electron microcopy or cryo-EM to image tau tangles from the brain of a 86-year-old woman who died while ill with Alzheimer's. Their paper was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Electron micrograph of tau filaments. Two different types of filaments are flagged with blue and green arrows.Fitzpatrick et al 2017

Slow down: It still isn't clear if tau tangles, amyloid plaques or something else cause Alzheimer's. Some research suggests that the two work together, while other studies suggest that amyloids could be red herrings. Even if treating tau proteins helps treat Alzheimers, it could be decades before any tau-targeting treatments hit the market. Still, this molecular understanding is a big step.

What's next: The researchers hope that by imaging tau proteins in other diseases, they'll be able to see if they form similarly or differently than Alzheimer's tau tangles.

Go deeper

Updated 37 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Dave Lawler, author of World
51 mins ago - World

Biden holds first phone call with Putin, raises Navalny arrest

Putin takes a call in 2017. Photo: Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty

President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.

The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!