Scientists identify how Alzheimer’s progresses in the brain

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Scientists have identified what drives Alzheimer’s progression within the brain, in the hope that new treatments can be developed to target the disease.

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Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that instead of spreading like cancer from a single source, toxic clumps of protein gradually accumulate in multiple areas of the brain.

Over the course of several years, these clusters — known as aggregates — cause cells to die and the brain to shrink, resulting in memory loss, personality changes, and difficulty performing daily tasks.


research published in the journal science advance, shows that the rate of progression in Alzheimer’s disease is shaped by the replication of aggregates in different regions of the brain, not by the spread of aggregates from one region to another.

Then how quickly these clusters kill brain cells determines the overall speed of the decline in brain functioning.

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Two types of proteins — called tau and amyloid-beta — join together to form aggregates. The scientists used post-mortem brain samples as well as scans from living patients, including those with mild cognitive impairment and those with late-stage disease, to track the aggregation of tau.

They found that the replication of tau aggregates is surprisingly slow—up to five years.

Co-author Professor Sir David Kleinerman, from the UK Dementia Research Institute, said: “Neurons are surprisingly good at preventing aggregates from forming, but if we’re going to develop an effective treatment, we need to find ways to make them even better.” Will be.” Cambridge University.

Researchers say their findings could be used to help develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 44 million people worldwide, by targeting the most important processes that occur when humans develop the disease. We do.

“The main finding is that inhibiting the replication of aggregates rather than their spread is going to be more effective at disease stages,” said co-senior author Professor Tuomas Knowles, from Cambridge’s Yusuf Hamid Department of Chemistry.

The researchers now plan to look at earlier processes in the development of Alzheimer’s, and plan to extend the study to other brain diseases where replication of tau aggregates plays an important role in the progression of the condition.

Commenting on the study, Dr Sarah Emaricio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Hopefully this study and others like it will help to focus the development of future treatments that target tau, so in the future. Any treatment has a better chance of slowing it down. The diseases are self-processing and are of benefit to people with dementia.”


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