New Insights into the Cause of Alzheimer's

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

Last month, a publication in the journal Science suggested a potentially important nuance to our understanding of Alzheimer's pathology.

The most prominent theory in the field, the amyloid hypothesis, posits that excess beta-amyloid in the brain forms plaques which eventually kill brain cells and impair cognition.  However, the cause of the excess beta-amyloid is an open question.

The new study, from the University of Washington, suggests that the excess is not due to over-production but by poor clearance of amyloid.  The study, on just 24 subjects, twelve of whom had Alzheimer's and twelve of whom were cognitively normal, showed that the subjects with Alzheimer's produced beta-amyloid at about the same rate as the control group but cleared it into the blood stream about 30% slower.

If further validated, this finding could lead researchers down a more well defined path in their efforts to discover new treatments for excess amyloid in the brain.

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