The build-up of plaques and tangles in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients marks the slow but inexorable progression of the disease. New drugs aim to halt the accumulation of amyloid beta peptides, the principal component of plaques. High-throughput drug screens, with plaque formation or its consequences as a readout, are difficult and slow in existing models. Virata and Zeller show that the sea squirt, our closest invertebrate relative, could be a useful resource for drug development.

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