A possible physical origin of Alzheimer’s disease has been found recently by Scientists from UCLA. The new discovery means there may be new ways to treat the disorder’s cause and not just the symptoms.

It is estimated that Alzheimer’s disease affects 24 million people worldwide. Half the people over 85 may suffer from it. The disorder’s symptoms are a decline in an individual’s memory and ability to think and function independently. The disorder is fatal. Drugs available treat only the symptoms and not the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

The UCLA scientists are headed by David Teplow, Professor of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. They have identified a loop in the A-beta protein that is likely responsible for the adhesion process of A-beta proteins. When A-beta proteins stick together they form toxic deposits in the brain that can form various clump structures called amyloid plaques. The recent studies suggest these plaques have potent neurotoxic activities that may kill brain cells.

The understandings of how toxic A-beta clumps form in the brain could help scientists create new drugs that block the production of A-beta and prevent it from clumping. The drugs could be used to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Cold Sore Virus link to Alzheimer’s disease

There is also continuing evidence that the cold sore virus is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Manchester University found brains in lab tests infected with the herpes simplex virus HSV-1 had an increase in a protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

The breakthrough for a vaccine with this discovery to help prevent the brain disorder is possible, but probably a long time off.

When researchers infected cultures of human brain cells with the virus, they found an astounding increase in levels of the beta amyloid protein. Beta amyloid protein is the building blocks of deposits, or plaques that form in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers saw a similar increase in the brains of mice infected with HSV-1. In yet a separate experiment, the researchers stained brain slices taken from dead Alzheimer’s patients. They found DNA from HSV-1 attached to the plaques.

Previous research has established HSV-1 is found in the brains of up to 70% of people with Alzheimer’s disease. A team from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York discovered that it was more likely to cause problems in people who carry a mutant version of a specific gene called ApoE4.

Dr. Ruth Itzhaki is the lead researcher. She thinks Alzheimer’s is a multi-factorial disease having many different causes. Scientists still have to establish a direct link between the virus and the disease, however, the Manchester team feels what they discovered will offer hope for the future.

Scientists are hoping for a vaccine to fight against the virus that could help protect people against Alzheimer’s disease. They still need to do much more work and research as many people are skeptical of a viral link to Alzheimer’s disease. The director of research at the Alzheimer’s Society said a link between the virus and Alzheimer’s disease was first suggested ten years ago.

More research is needed before scientists can establish how relevant the link between the virus and Alzheimer’s disease actually is in regard to the treatment of people with the disease.

Source: American Academy of Anti-Aging

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.

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© 2007 Connie Limon All Rights Reserved

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