Aluminum potassium sulfate dodecahydrate (alum) is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in a multitude of applications from printing to electrolytic copper plating. Aluminum has been implicated in either formation or stabilization of beta-pleated amyloid plaques which lead to pathologies such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease; these beta sheet aggregates show similarity to amyloid plaques formed via the prion protein (mad cow disease). Alum can be used to probe the role of aluminium in these pathologies and is also used as a catalyst in the synthesis of ammonia, as mordant in staining with carmine, eosine or hematoxylin, and as a hardening agent in microscopy.
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