Alzheimer's disease culture cells. Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of cells used in Alzheimer's disease research. These cells have been genetically engineered to produce amyloid precursor protein (APP), which in turn forms the protein amyloid. Plaques of amyloid in the brain are a major pathological feature of Alzheimer's disease. These cells are cultured from a nerve cancer (neuroblastoma), and have shorter and more numerous processes (dendrites and axons) than healthy nerve cells. Alzheimer's is a brain-wasting disease common in the elderly. It causes confusion, memory loss, personality changes and eventually death. Magnification unknown.