University of Portsmouth Neuroscientists and collaborators in the US and the UK have made a significant breakthrough in the study of Alzheimer’s diseases, which could lead to early diagnosis and better treatments.
Researchers identify protein responsible for Alzheimer’s
For the first time, researchers have found a key protein one of the brain areas that become the first to suffer effects of Alzheimer’s. Jerome Swinny, a neuropharmacology professor at the University of Portsmouth said that the study funded by Alzheimer’s Society aimed at understanding how and why the brain areas change during on-set of the disease. Researchers expect the results of the study to help in facilitating early diagnosis and identification of Alzheimer’s disease treatments, which may change the progressive nature of the disease.
Swinny said that this significant breakthrough offers direction for future studies that will focus on different drug development for uses at different Alzheimer’s stages. He said that currently only treatments addressing Alzheimer’s symptoms are available and usually their effects will wear offer after a couple of years. Therefore, having drugs specifically targeting underlying early-stage Alzheimer’s pathology could help in stemming disease progression throughout the brain. As a result, this can greatly enhance people living with Alzheimer’s quality of life and those of caregivers.
Early Alzheimer’s changes occur in Locus coeruleus regions
The researchers focused on how changes occur in the brain at the onset of Alzheimer’s. Most importantly, this is something that has been challenging scientifically due to unequivocal diagnosis of the diseases which often happens in the late stage of Alzheimer’s.
However, that could change as researchers have found the key proteins involved in Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain regions, the locus coeruleus, which becomes the first to be affected. The discovery is massive since up to until now it was believed that the key proteins were not critical components in disease pathology within the LC, more so in early disease stages.
Interestingly, Alzheimer-related pathology is seen first in few brain regions even before patients start showing clinical symptoms. AD is a progressive disease that eventually spread to the rest of the brain.