Monday, May 03, 2010

Alzheimer's: This is science-y


My mother does not have Alzheimer’s, which is a form of dementia, but she is memory-impaired.

So I have read up on Alzheimer’s and these other horrible variations quite a bit over the years, and the conventional wisdom, to the extent they know anything, is that the physical and mental symptoms of Alzheimer’s were caused by amyloid plaque, kind of like oozy brain snot that sort of smothers brain signals.

This was discovered or put forth 100 years ago and forms the basis of much research.

Now, in a rat model, researchers seem to have shown that floating clumps of amyloid called oligomers are key to impeding brain cell function.

Mice that never developed plaques were just as impaired as those with both plaques and oligomers.

Recently, a drug was tested that cleared away 25% of plaques—and patients weren’t any better.

Knowing what causes something helps docs find a way to detoxify or remove it—presumably leading to improvement.

Some researcher have wondered before this if the plaques might be neutral or even protective, rather than the villains.

So, keep those fingers crossed.

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