Newswise — In recent years, scientists have found a new appreciation for how cells concentrate certain proteins and other large molecules, such as RNA, into tiny liquid droplets. Forming like beads of oil in water, these droplets have been tied to various neurodegenerative diseases, including frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and even Alzheimer’s disease. The list of mammalian proteins that form such droplets has now grown to include none other than tau, one of the two major proteins that accumulate in the brains of people with AD, according to data presented at Phase Transitions in Biology and Disease, a meeting held May 2-3 in Leuven, Belgium. There, researchers debated why and how these droplets form, what biological or pathological roles they play, and whether scientists can control these ephemeral organelles to protect against disease.

Read Alzforum’s report for a clearer sense of how these membraneless organelles form, how they disperse, and how the proteins they contain can be shunted back into their proper location in the cell.