Growing Closer to a Cure for Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia among older adults. It is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that results in the degradation and loss of neurons in the brain, affecting a patient's memory and ability to think.
However, in recent years, more and more knowledge has been accrued about how Alzheimer’s develops. Researchers and medical professionals are already able to mitigate some of the effects of this unfortunate disease, and eventually, they may be able to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.
While each discovery cannot immediately help or benefit those who already have the disease, the more we understand how it develops, the better we can determine the best way to combat it.
Understanding how Alzheimer's disease develops and the work carried out today
Alzheimer's disease develops when the neurons in the brain die as a result of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. A senile plaque develops when beta amyloid fragments build up between nerve cells, which is also said to be a byproduct of aging. But, when there is an abnormal amount of the protein between these cells, it is considered to be one of the physiological markers for Alzheimer's disease. Neurofibrillary tangles are the primary marker for Alzheimer's disease alongside senile plaques, and these develop when a protein called tau becomes twisted and groups around nerve cells.
Why senila plaques and neurofibrillary tangles develop isn't really clear yet. However, researchers have found that most cases of Alzheimer's are inherited. Because of the role played by DNA, the disease is also known as familial Alzheimer’s disease, or FAD. Up until now, there have been three chromosomes discovered in the genetic mutations involved with Alzheimer’s, which are chromosomes 1, 14, and 21. All of these genetic mutations are known to cause changes in how certain proteins in the brain develop; they have also been found to produce abnormal precursors for the amyloid protein. Even the non-familial form of Alzheimer’s disease is known to have a genetic component to it. One gene called apolipoprotein E (APOE E4) has been shown to be linked to an increased risk for this medical condition. Other genes, known as ABCA7, have also been observed to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
As of right now, there is no cure for this disease, but there are treatment options that can help manage the symptoms as well as delay its progression, and scientists are very committed to finding a cure for this medical disease. Currently, with the help of newer technologies, medications, and therapies, there are ways to combat a few of the symptoms if the disease is detected earlier on.
One way for patients to detect the disease early on is by taking a blood test developed to detect the Alzheimer's gene if they already have a family history. While it may not be prevented, patients and their caregivers can still look at the options out there to delay the disease as much as possible. While researchers are still looking into other methods for treatment, patients can also delay their symptoms by participating in hormone therapy, changing their diet, and exercising.
Today, the Alzheimer's Association is also very positive about what the future holds as there are numerous clinical trials and efforts being carried out to find a cure for this disease.