One Step Closer to Treatment? Scientists Discover Potential Cause of Alzheimer's Disease
© Photo : PixabayExpression of despair
© Photo : Pixabay
Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative illness that tends to worsen with time. Those suffering from it experience issues with memory, communication and behaviour, and there is currently no medication that could cure it or reduce the risks.
Scientists from the University of California-Riverside tried to study Alzheimer's disease from a different perspective, and it seems they may have discovered the potential cause of it, according to new research.
It appears that unhealthy brain buildup may be connected with the slowing ability of cells to "clean themselves". When doctors examine the possible symptoms before diagnosing Alzheimer's, they look for two things: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.
“Roughly 20% of people have the plaques, but no signs of dementia,” said UCR Chemistry Professor Ryan Julian. “This makes it seem as though the plaques themselves are not the cause.”
What is the cause, then? California researchers suspect it could be about the protein tau. After examining the donated brain samples, the scientists discovered that those who had a “different-handed” form of tau, along with plaques and tangles, had dementia.
The whole thing is also connected with the way proteins like tau can sometimes live longer than the normal 48 hours, which can cause some amino acids to turn into a "different-handed" isomer.
“If you try to put a right-handed glove on your left hand, it doesn’t work too well. It’s a similar problem in biology; molecules don’t work the way they’re supposed to after a while because a left-handed glove can actually convert into a right-handed glove that doesn’t fit,” Julian explained.
The speed of clearing the proteins - or autophagy - tends to reduce in people who are older than 65. It is not clearly understood why, but the California scientists plan to study this.
Some drugs are already being tested to improve the process of autophagy. Along with proper dieting and new medications, humanity may hope for a more effective prevention of Alzheimer's disease.