Tau protein has multiple normal functions including the modulation of microtubule stability, axonal transport, modulation of signaling pathways and adult neurogenesis. Although neurofibrillary tangles are pathological hallmarks associated with Alzheimer’s disease, their role in causing neurodegeneration is as multiple studies have shown that tau oligomers, not fibrils or tangles, are closely correlated with neuronal loss and memory impairment.
Oligomerix, its collaborators, and other research labs have shown that tau oligomers are directly neurotoxic (Tian et al., 2013), inhibit signal transmission between neurons, and impair formation of memory in mice (Fá et al., 2016). The progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is highly associated with the spread of tau pathological aggregates within the brain in a highly reproducible pattern that is used to stage the disease. Tau oligomers also transmit tau pathology by migrating from diseased to healthy neurons where they seed tau misfolding, self-association into oligomers and larger aggregates, creating widespread neuropathology.