New Alzheimer’s Research Could Help with Drug Development

 

The number of Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses has been rising rapidly over the last few decades. Today, an estimated 6.5 million Americans alone are living with this disease. Yet there is still much to understand about the underlying mechanisms behind this disease – and how it might affect things like blood supply to the brain. 

Performing Research with Mice Models

According to Medical XPress, a research team from the University of Manchester sought to learn more about how blood supply issues and blood flow could contribute to the disease. To do this, the team focused on pial arteries, or small arteries on the brain’s surface which supply and control blood and oxygen. In Alzheimer’s disease, these pial arteries become narrowed. This prevents adequate blood and oxygen to the brain, causing neuronal problems and memory issues. So the researchers’ main focus was to determine what caused these narrowing pial arteries. 

The research team first evaluated the arteries in mice models of this condition. Through this, the researchers determined that these mice had heightened levels of Aβ 1-40, a type of protein which has previously been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that Aβ 1-40 contributed to arterial narrowing in two specific ways. First, the protein accumulated throughout smaller arteries, causing blockages and inhibiting blood flow. Next, Aβ 1-40 also turned “off” the BK protein, which told arteries when to widen. 

Moving forward, the researchers hope to learn more about the interactions between BK and Aβ 1-40. Through this, it could be possible to begin developing therapies to more effectively treat those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Interested in learning more? The full study findings can be found in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease and the most common form of dementia. In prior research, doctors have associated various lifestyle, environmental, and genetic factors with Alzheimer’s disease development. As described above, recent research indicates that blood vessel changes in the brain could prompt the disease. Regardless, in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, neurons disconnect and die, causing worsening issues with memory, thought, and language. Risk factors include a family history of this disease, being female, being older in age, having poor sleeping or exercise patterns, or prior head trauma. Symptoms can include:

  • Memory loss that can be disruptive to daily life
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks
  • Decreased or poor judgment 
  • Speech repetition
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in mood, personality, and behavior
  • Aspiration (complication)
  • Falls or fractures (complication)
  • Malnutrition or dehydration (complication)
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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