A recent study suggests that we may be close to finding a way to stopping Alzheimer’s disease, or even reverse it.
Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is a condition causes gradual and long-term loss of memory and cognitive function. It is also referred to as senility. Usually starting from middle age or old age, it can interfere with daily tasks and severely affect quality of life.
Currently, there is no cure for the disease. Both drug and non-drug treatments may address behavioral and cognitive symptoms but not the underlying cause. Current medications can only temporarily slow the worsening symptoms and thereby improve quality of life to a certain degree.
While lots of studies have been conducted on this debilitating disease – including one indicating that champagne may help prevent it – this new study seems to indicate that scientists may need change their focus.
The research team from the University of Minnesota has spent 10 years studying the disease. They discovered a specific enzyme called caspase-2, which attacks neurons in the brain, specifically a protein known as tau. By focusing on that process, the scientists were able to reverse it and restore memory deficits.
Tau proteins are abundant in neurons of the central nervous system and have been linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease when defective. One significant discovery the researchers made is that mutated taus disrupted the ability of neurons to properly receive and respond to signals. This may cause “memory deficits independent of tangle formation.”
With this discovery, scientists may soon be able to come up with a way to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and possibly a cure.
The study is published in the Nature Medicine journal. You can read a more detailed post on this at the University Herald website.