Back when television was still broadcast only in B&W, researchers discovered that Alzheimer’s disease patients had aluminum deposits in their brain. From then on, health conscious people avoided deodorants with aluminum and stopped using aluminum kitchenware.
After several decades and further research, the aluminum — Alzheimer’s disease link was never proven. In fact, linking aluminum to any neurodegenerative disease was never achieved. Researchers did find that other metal ions did occur naturally in the brain including: zinc, iron, and copper.
Since aluminum was never directly linked to Alzheimer’s, researchers thought possibly one of the other metal ions might play a role in neurodegenerative diseases.
What researchers found is that naturally occurring copper ions (that have an electrical charge), have a peculiar way of binding with amyloids. In a healthy brain, amyloids form fibrils, which decompose and are cleared away. The copper ions disrupt the way amyloids form fibrils. As the fibrils form, a few of them become toxic and sticky, and worse, they do not decompose. Over time those sticky, toxic fibrils accumulate and eventually begin to noticeably damage the brain.
The next step is to determine what positive role amyloid fibrils play in the way the brain functions. It is already known that they play a role in long-term memory, but because of the negative role amyloid fibrils appear to play in neurodegenerative diseases, more energy has been focused on learning their negative attributes rather than their positive contributions. Researchers hope focusing on the positive role of amyloid fibrils will lead to the prevention of those sticky, toxic amloid fibrils from forming.