A breakthrough study means that scientists could be one step closer to making a drug that stops Alzheimer’s in its track.
A team at King’s College London now have a better understanding of what triggers the disease. They believe they have gotten to bottom of the chain reaction of events that causes brain cells to die because of Alzheimer’s.
“Our research has given the most detailed picture yet of how the disease progresses and we hope it will offer leads for the development of new treatments,” says Dr Richard Killick of the King College London's Institute of Psychiatry.
It’s well documented that Alzheimer’s is closely linked with a build-up of plaque between brain cells, which causes fibres to tangle inside the cells, leading them to die. The most recent study, however, has found that a third molecule, called cluterin, is also involved.
This molecule acts as a biochemical “switch” that causes the changes in the fibres that kill brain cells, hence triggering Alzheimer’s.
With no current cure, this discovery is incredibly promising for suffers. In Australia about 280,000 people suffer from dementia with Alzheimer’s being the most common form. And this number is set to double in the next 20 years.
Professor Simon Lovestone, who led the study, said: “We have shown that we can block the toxic effects of amyloid when we stop this signalling pathway in brain cells grown in the lab.
“We believe that if we could block its activity in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients too, we may have an opportunity to halt the disease in man.” Lovestone adds that the institute has already begun its own drug development program to do just that.
While further research is underway, experts recommend consuming a balanced, low-fat diet, exercising regularly, giving up smoking, maintaining a normal blood pressure, and staying mentally and socially active as ways to prevent the disease. Related content:
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