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Published on: November 17, 2014
by Christina Jakubowski for BioScience Technology:
To help keep you up to date, here’s our choice of five cutting-edge Alzheimer’s disease (AD) breakthroughs to come across the wire this month:
1. Georgetown University Medical Center kicked off this month by debunking the most common theory of AD development. The research team reported in Molecular Neurodegeneration that malfunctioning tau— a protein found inside neurons— not amyloid-beta plaque (the prevailing suspect), is what leads to neuron death in brain disorders like AD. The major takeaway? This means the cancer drug nilotinib might help combat the disease.
2. Researchers from Harvard Medical School identified a molecular switch that controls inflammatory processes involved in a variety of conditions, including AD. The Science Signaling report found that the signaling molecule nitric oxide (located on the regulatory protein SIRT1) induces inflammation and cell death in models of several aging-related disorders. Once confirmed in humans, the process could be targeted by inhibitors as a means to control AD.
3. Earlier this month, Duke University revealed details about their “brain bank” of more than 1,200 human brains donated to Duke during the past 25 years, as well as information about the MURDOCK study, a “living cohort” that contains statistics about 1,511 healthy adults who have their mental processes studied over time. Both projects show promise for managing AD.
4. A University of Kentucky-led team claims to have defined and established criteria for a new neurological disease closely resembling Alzheimer’s. Referred to as primary age-related tauopathy (PART), the disease is considered a “primary tauopathy,” which is caused by tangled tau proteins. As PART patients begin to receive better, more targeted therapies, the accuracy of clinical trials for AD drugs will improve.
5. Research out of Baycrest Health Sciences’ Rotman Research Institute showed that anxiety can damage the brain and accelerate the conversion to AD for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Using data from the population-based AD Neuroimaging Initiative, the team analyzed anxiety, depression, cognitive and brain structural changes in 376 adults, aged 55 to 91, over a three-year period. They found that MCI patients with mild, moderate or severe anxiety, showed an increased risk of transitioning to AD, by 33%, 78% and 135%, respectively.
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