Scientists determine the cause of the development of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain


Scientists have identified what drives the development of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain, raising hopes that new treatments can be developed to target the disease.

An international team of researchers led by the University of Cambridge found that instead of spreading like cancer from a single source, clumps of toxic protein slowly accumulated in multiple areas of the brain at the same time.

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These clumps form over a number of years, and are known as clumps, and cause cell death and brain shrinkage, leading to memory loss, personality changes and difficulty performing daily functions.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, shows that the rate of progression in Alzheimer’s disease is shaped by the recurrence of clumps in individual brain regions, not the clumps spreading from one region to another.

How quickly these groups kill brain cells determines the overall rate of decline in brain function.

Two types of proteins, called tau and amyloid-beta, clump together to form tangles.

The scientists used postmortem brain samples, as well as examinations from living patients, including those with mild cognitive impairment and those with late-stage disease, to track tau build-up.

They found that the replication of tau totals was surprisingly slow, taking up to five years.

Associate Professor David Kleinman, from the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘Neuro cells are surprisingly good at preventing tangles from forming, but we need to find ways to make them even better if we are to develop an effective treatment.

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The researchers say their findings could be used to help develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 44 million people worldwide, by targeting the most important processes that occur when humans become ill.

Co-senior author Professor Thomas Knowles, from Yousef Hamid’s Department of Chemistry in Cambridge, noted: “The main finding is that stopping the replication of masses rather than their reproduction would be more effective in the stages of disease we studied.”

The researchers now plan to look at past processes in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and expand the studies to include other brain diseases where tau replication plays a major role in the condition’s progression.

Commenting on the study, Dr Sarah Emarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We hope this study and others like it will help focus on developing future therapies that target tau, so any future treatments have a better chance of slowing down the disease’s processes itself and benefiting others. Including people with dementia.

Source: The Independent

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