21 Oct 2013/
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of memory loss and cognitive disability in the elderly worldwide. According to World Health Organization (WHO), AD currently affects over 35 million people worldwide. This number is predicted to increase to 115 million people by 2050 (WHO, 2012). The disease is multifactorial (meaning that a host of genetic and environmental factors are involved) but research suggests that certain individuals may inherit a genetic make-up that makes them more susceptible. Current scientific evidence indicates that the accumulation of toxic protein fragments known as amyloid-β (Aβ) in brain perturbs the ability of brain cells to communicate with neighboring cells and eventually leads to their demise. In addition, excessive accumulation of abnormally aggregated forms of another normal neuronal protein known as tau is also a hallmark feature. Reducing the production, improving the clearance and inhibiting the toxic effects of Aβ, as well as preventing the abnormal aggregation and accumulation of tau in nerve cell bodies, are major areas of ongoing research into the development of novel therapies. A thorough neurological examination, clinical history, memory assessment tasks and novel brain imaging methods enable to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease from other causes of memory loss.
The above picture is taken from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging. Shown on the left is normal brain and on the right an Alzheimer’s disease brain. What differences do you see?
Find out about the latest research in Alzheimer’s disease here.