Sunday, July 6, 2008

Protein-Alzheimer’s Link Being Probed

Alzheimer’s. People know it. People fear it.

Unfortunately, people can’t cure it, either.

The sad part is that nobody seems to have any idea what causes this problem. There are numerous scattered theories that suggest one thing or another, but really, the medical community knows very little about the causes of this. Which sort of makes it a disease that’s exceedingly tough to cure, doesn’t it? After all, if you don’t know what’s causing a problem, you’re sort of stuck playing damage control for the effects. You can’t really solve it without knowing what the root of it is. This is, presumably, why there are so many studies going on that are trying to find out what makes Alzheimer’s tick. Once we know what causes it, maybe we can find a way to reverse the damage? Or maybe even prevent it from happening. A bit of a dream, so for now, we stick with treatment.

Well, there might be some hope along that horizon. A research team believes that they may have found a sticky little protein that could be linked to the condition. They’ve found that they caused symptoms of memory loss similar to a number of forms of dementia in rats by injecting a protein they call beta-amyloid. According to them, this protein is also present in patients with Alzheimer’s. Apparently, it forms some sort of plague-like problem that can be found in the brains of people with the aforementioned condition. Nobody’s really been able to tell whether this was the cause or just one of the side effects, though. After all, the problem shows up in people without Alzheimer’s.

Tests have been done on this protein before, I’m told. This is because, as stated, it does tend to show up in patients with Alzheimer’s. Many believed that it might have held some sort of connection to the cause of the disease. Some believed that the discovery of the protein in people without the condition negated that hypothesis, but this latest revelation is proving promising in reviving beta-amyloid as a potential avenue of research. And in the quest to find out what triggers Alzheimer’s – and how to fix the damage so that the trigger can be undone – then any given lead is as good as anything.

It should be made known that there are basically three types of the aforementioned protein. Each of them is, clearly, of the sticky variety. Each one is generally found in patients with Alzheimer’s, and in some cases, in people who don’t have the condition and have no signs of developing any form of dementia. According to the research team, the first two types did not cause any sort of dementia in the laboratory test subjects that were injected with it. Whether or not this disproves the connection with dementia is unknown. The third type of the protein, in contrast, definitely caused some effect. Most of the test rats that were injected with it developed dementia.

The question now, however, is why did this happen? And furthermore, can it be prevented?

Resource Box : Harvey Ong is currently working as a writer-researcher for an online pharmaceutical company. He has also had experience field testing blackjack betting systems and is an amateur poker player.

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