What Causes Alzheimer’s?
New Study: Alzheimer’s and Oligomers — Enemy Number One?
September 2010 AARP Magazine had a very interesting article titled “Alzheimer’s A New Theory” by Elizabeth Agnvall.
I admit that I don’t understand all of the thought processes behind the medications that are prescribed for some of these types of diseases. And, I am not a doctor. The oath taken by doctors is to “do no harm”, so I don’t wish to jump the gun, or be too judgmental. I tend to be anti-pharmaceutical overall, so forgive me if I paint this at all harshly against our “modern” medical practitioners. They do the best they can with the information they have – until that changes
Having worked as long as I have in the senior care industry, I’ve seen too many families and patients devastated by Alzheimer’s disease, praying for an answer, spending a small fortune on the “magic” pills that they were told might make a difference. It’s hard not to be passionate about the subject. And now, this article brings to light the fact that there is a very strong probability that we’ve been looking at the wrong thing as part of the cause
The article reports the following: (The link to the actual article is above if you wish to read it.)
Recently published studies conducted on mice and rats have shown that the sticky plaques that surround the brain cells of those with Alzheimer’s may be the body’s way of protecting itself against toxic clumps of protein. Clumps of amyloid beta protein called oligomers now seem to be the main source of the attacks on the brain. To quote the article, and Sam Gandy, MD., with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NY,: “Alzheimer’s seems to be caused by the buildup in the brain of clumps of material that are formed by the breakdown of proteins”. He now thinks that these oligomers are the cause of the loss of memory and not the plaques previously believed to be a component. The plaques are not where scientists are now focusing in studying Alzheimer’s and how to treat it
To explain: Amyloid proteins are broken down naturally throughout our lives. As the body ages, too many of these protein clumps create a damaging buildup in the brain. (I guess it’s similar to cholesterol in your arteries. Cholesterol is necessary for our bodies and brains to function. But, too much of anything…) These clumps may also trigger the creation of the tau protein tangles that further gum up the signaling systems of the brain
The formation of the plaques around these clumps and tangles may be the brains way of trying to remove the oligomers – much like a clam forms a pearl around a grain of sand. The article continues stating: Rudolph Tanzi, Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Mass General, said that he thinks the protein plays an important role in the brain, so they don’t want to eliminate it all together. (again, it seems similar to cholesterol.) However, too much plaque could also interfere with brain function although “researchers found that some people who never had dementia had brains inundated with plaques. It could be that their brains were exceptionally good at converting the offending “sand” into “pearls”"
“Several drugs are in the early stages of development but it will be at least a year before we can expect to see results.”
It will be interesting to see where this new research will take us with this disease. Could a cure be near?? I certainly hope so. In the meantime the best advise given is to eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, exercise both your body and your mind, learn how to cope with, or reduce, stress, and keep inflammation under control.
For a more complete understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease, read Wikipedia’s very detailed explanation.