Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Latest Breakthrough in Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care

While there is more work to be done in developing a medication for Alzheimer’s patients, scientists are now saying that a new medicine could be used to treat this condition, along with Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and many more. Alzheimer’s currently affects more than five million Americans, and British scientists might be developing new hope for them in the laboratory. 
In their tests on mice, the Medical Research Council discovered that all cell death within the brain caused by prion disease (neurodegenerative disorders) could actually be prevented. This discovery is hailed as a turning point in the search for controlling and even preventing Alzheimer’s. While this discovery is not poised to change the world of medicine immediately, it appears to be a hopeful benchmark.
The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit team, based out of the University of Leicester, honed in on brain cells’ natural defense mechanisms. When a virus affects the brain, it causes an accumulation of viral proteins. Cells respond to this build-up by stopping virtually all production of protein in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. 
However, a large number of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, involve the production of abnormal proteins. These can set off the same defenses, but often with more dangerous consequences. These proteins tend to stay put, and the brain cells stop production of protein for so long that the cells essentially starve to death. This process, which tends to repeat throughout the entire brain, can break down a person’s ability to move properly or recall memories, or lead to fatality. 
This whole process is suspected to happen in many different forms of neurodegeneration. In theory, safely disrupting the process could essentially treat countless neurodegenerative diseases with a single medication. The researchers who made the astounding discovery used a formula that prevented such defense mechanisms from starting. In turn, the compound stopped neurodegeneration altogether.
The study was published in Science Translational Medicine, and revealed that mice who had prion disease experienced severe movement and memory problems. They tended to die within just 12 weeks. But those who were treated with the compound showed no signs of withered brain tissue at all. 
The fact that this compound entirely prevented the breakdown of tissue is a first in the field. While this formula is not ready for human treatment, the results showed that stopping neurodegeneration is even a possibility. 
In addition, the compound did come with side effects for mice. The pancreas was affected, resulting in the development of mild diabetes and weight loss. Any drug used on humans would be required to only act on the brain, but this news gives scientists a strong starting point from which to work. 
The Alzheimer’s Research UK charity reports that targeting a single mechanism, related to many neurodegenerative diseases, could lead to the creation of just one drug that has wide-reaching benefits. However, this particular compound is still in its very early stages.
Despite this discovery, much more research needs to be done to see how these findings would directly apply to diseases. With continued studies and testing, these compounds may have the unmatched potential of improving dementia care and Alzheimer’s care for patients, or preventing the disease altogether.


  1. My grandfather is getting older and having a difficult time taking care of himself. He is also struggling with alzheimer's disease. As a family we think it is best to get him help, before he hurts himself. Thanks for this information we will be sure to look into it.

    Amber |

  2. My grandmother has been living with my Aunt and Uncle because she is in her early 90s and is getting weak. The biggest struggle is with short term memory loss. She asks the same questions over and over again after being's frustrating and hard for my Aunt and Uncle. We're thinking it's time for her to be in a senior care center so she can have the help she needs from people who know how to best take care of her. Kinda sad to see this happen to your family! -county

  3. amazing information this would be a great achievement for researchers that they attain a new and easy treatment for Alzheimer’s patients.
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  4. I think that it is great that there are senior in home care options and services that can help with those who have alzheimer's disease. They can get help and treatment. I think this is great and know that my grandfather could really benefit from such a program. Thanks for sharing!

    amber |

  5. It's great that scientists are making breakthroughs in researching Alzheimer's. My dad has just developed Alzheimer's disease. I've tried to do the best I could to help his symptoms from progressing. He's on the later stages of Alzheimer's now. I need some help with taking care of him. It seems like I should put him in a senior care center so that he can get the care that he needs.

  6. Wow, that was some really great information about Alzheimer's disease. My mother was recently diagnosed, and it is really hard to see her go through that struggle. I just really hope that she's able to get the care that she needs.

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