Alzheimer's Disease in other Primates

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Step by step, scientists are uncovering pieces of the puzzle that will ultimately let us understand the underlying pathology of Alzheimer's disease. This in turn, will lead us down the pathway to a cure.

In the news this week is a study published in Neurobiology of Aging demonstrating a clear, but yet undefined, difference between the amyloid plaques in human brains and those in the brains of other primates. The role of these plaques in Alzhiemer's disease is not completely understood and has been discussed in an earlier post.

This recent study showed that a particular molecule tag (Pittsburgh Compoud B or PIB) binds readily to amyloid plaques in human brains but not so to the amyloid plaques in the brains of other primates. This strongly suggests a structural difference between the two types of plaques.

More importantly, since other primates have not been found to develop Alzheimer's-like cognitive decline, even when the plaques are present, it is likely that isolating the structural differences between human amyloid plaques and those from other primates will yield important new insights. Understanding these basic differences will give scientists a fresh new clue to explore in their quest to find the cause and potential cure of this poorly understood disease.

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