Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Could Lead to Treatment for 130 Conditions

December 21, 2010

Bringing hope to millions worldwide, scientists this week unveiled a “gold-rush” Alzheimer’s breakthrough that has the potential of paving the way to a cure for 130 different neuro-degenerative conditions. Get the full story, plus pictures and video below!

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AD has been getting the support of Celebrities and fund-raising groups for years, but there is still no known cure. Currently, 5.3 million Americans suffer from AD now, and that figure is expected to balloon to 16 million by 2050. The disease, usually affecting the elderly, is caused by the rapid and widespread death of neurons in the brain, leading to confusion and memory loss.

This is precisely where the new Alzheimer’s breakthrough comes into play. Scientists have managed to identify 1,461 different synapse proteins at work in the brain, and flag which ones are causing the rapid neuro-degeneration. Beta-Amyloid (A-Beta) protein is now thought to be the main culprit, and finding a way to deactivate or remove it could be the key to curing such diseases as AD, Parkinson’s Disease, and even Autism.

“There are a total of 50 scientists and experts from different parts of the globe, who are working on finding ways to detach the A-beta protein that is strongly linked to AD with aging,” said Prof Paul Maruff, one of the senior scientists of the group, while talking to TOI on Monday. “We conducted a number of experiments and tests that showed that amyloid-related mechanism prunes neuronal connections in the brain in the fast-growth phase of early life. It was also found to be triggered by aging-related processes in later life to cause the neuronal withering of the Alzheimer’s disease.”

In other words, A-Beta is useful in early life because it prevents the neurons from making too many connections as the brain grows. But, if it is re-activated in later life, it can lead to AD. For years now, scientists have prescribed everything from frequent exercise to brain-teasers in an attempt to stave of this devastating disease as no proven drug therapy has proven incredibly successful. With a little luck, this new discovery may lead the first legitimate therapy for delaying or even preventing the disease.

“These tests have brought us closer to developing a mechanism that can delay the onset of AD and finally pave the way for the cure of the disease,” he added.

What do you think of this Alzheimer’s breakthrough? Has your family or a friend been affected by AD? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section after you check out pictures and video of the latest AD treatments below!

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Photos: Billy Kirk, Reggie Collier, Daniel Warren, Nikki Nelson

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