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29-Apr-10 12:00 PM  CST  

Study Suggests Alternative Origin of Alzheimer’s Disease 

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found evidence suggesting that a different form of the protein amyloid causes Alzheimer’s disease than previously believed.

For years, Alzheimer’s researchers had thought that fixed clumps of beta amyloid called “plaques” attaching to the brain were responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s. However, according to their findings published in the Annals of Neurology medical journal, researchers at Mount Sinai, led by Dr. Sam Gandy MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, and Associate Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, have found that floating clumps of beta amyloid “ogilomers” may be the true cause of the disease.

“The buildup of amyloid plaques was described over 100 years ago and has received the bulk of the attention in Alzheimer's pathology," said Dr. Gandy in a press release. "But there has been a longstanding debate over whether plaques are toxic, protective, or inert.”

Several research groups had proposed a link between amyloid ogilomers and the onset of Alzheimer’s instead of amyloid plaques. These findings have been published in journals such as the Journal of Neuroinflammation, Science Magazine and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings of the Mount Sinai researchers would mark the first time that scientists were able to find real evidence linking ogilomers to the onset of the disease.

To study the link between ogilomers and Alzheimer’s, Dr. Gandy and colleagues bred mice that formed only oligomers and compared them with mice that had both plaques and oligomers. They found that the mice with only oligomers were just as impaired by the disease as mice with plaques and oligomers. They even used a gene to convert oligomers into plaques in the mice that had both. When they did, they found that the mice were no more impaired than they had been before.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in senior citizens. According to the National Institute on Aging, the disease affects at least 2.4 million people in the United States. Dr. Gandy and colleagues’ findings come just when the National Institute of Health has published a statement that an independent panel of researchers found no evidence that dietary supplements, use of prescription/non-prescription drugs, diet, exercise and social engagements such as doing crossword puzzles do anything to lower the risk or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. If indeed correct, the research going on at Mount Sinai could lead to a new series of treatments that help prevent the disease.

"These findings may enable the development of neuroimaging agents and drugs that visualize or detoxify oligomers," said Dr. Gandy. "New neuroimaging agents that could monitor changes in (beta amyloid) oligomer presence would be a major advance. Innovative neuroimaging agents that will allow visualization of brain oligomer accumulation, in tandem with careful clinical observations, could lead to breakthroughs in managing, slowing, stopping or even preventing Alzheimer's.”

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Source: NPTANews

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Tags: Alzheimer's Alzheimer's disease amyloid amyloid oligomers amyloid plaques cpht dementia Mount Sinai School of Medicine National Institute on Aging neurology NIH npta pharmacy pharmacy technician research treatment

 

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