Two Decades of Research May Be Reversed by a New Alzheimer’s Discovery

Alois Alzheimer, a clinical psychiatrist and expert in the study of the nervous system, reported a disease process of the cerebral cortex. The year was 1906.

We are approaching July 2021 with an estimated six million people in the nation affected by Alzheimer’s disorder. And now, according to a recent article in Sci-Tech Daily, scientists may have been wrong about removing amyloid plaques.

The study was led by teams at Cincinnati’s Neurological Center and a Swedish institute. It found that the target should be the restoration of the soluble brain protein, amyloid-beta peptide. The protein is necessary in its normal form to maintain a healthy brain. However, it appears at times to harden into clumps (amyloid plaques).

Dr. Alberto Espay, the senior author of the study, maintains that amyloid plaques do not cause Alzheimer’s, they are the result of the disorder. Scientists have labored to develop treatments that eliminate plaques. Now the team believes that cognitive impairment may be the result of a reduction in amyloid-beta peptides rather than amyloid plaques.

This theory was tested by analyzing the spinal fluid and brain scans of approximately six hundred people who participated in the Neuroimaging Initiative study for Alzheimer’s Disease. All participants had amyloid plaques.

Plaques and levels of peptide in participants with normal cognition were compared to trial enrollees who had cognitive impairment. The results were that the number of plaques was not as important as having high peptide levels. People with high peptide levels had normal cognitive function, which is defined as memory, thought, learning, problem-solving ability, and reasoning,

In addition, high levels of amyloid-beta peptides were related to an increase in the size of the brain area that affects memory (the hippocampus).

Looking Forward

Co-author Kariem Ezzat from the Swedish institute explained the team’s analysis as Alzheimer’s symptoms appearing dependent on normal soluble protein depletion rather than plaque accumulation.

Therefore, they believe that the highest and best approach in the future will be to replenish the brain proteins to normal levels. The next step will be testing these findings using animal models. Success would mean that treatments in the future will be vastly different than treatments of the past. The goal will be an increase in soluble protein to maintain a healthy brain and at the same time prevent the protein from hardening and becoming plaques.

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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