Stories tagged Alzheimer's

Jan
12
2008

Brain scan of an Alzheimer’s patient
Brain scan of an Alzheimer’s patientCourtesy NIH/National Institute on Aging

Doctors in California have developed a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, in which patients show tremendous improvement within minutes.

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain which can severely impair memory, thinking and behavior. The researchers noticed that Alzheimer’s patients have very high levels of a protein called TNF, which is known to regulate brain activity. The treatment involves injecting an anti-TNF drug into the patient’s spinal fluid. The drug, Etanercept, has already been approved by the FDA for treatment of other diseases. The study involved only a small number of patients, but the strong positive results of this early test give hope that an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s could be on the horizon.

NOTE: As always when we discuss medical treatment on Science Buzz, it is important to point out – we are not doctors. We cannot give medical advice, nor should you take medical advice from anyone over the Internet. If you have questions about this treatment, you need to consult your physician.

Oct
02
2007

Alzheimer's disease, often called "old timers disease" effects about 1 in 5 people over age 80. Called dementia, the symptoms include problems with memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion.

Alzheimer's similar to diabetes

Researchers at Northwestern University think that the mechanism of Alzheimer's involves insulin receptors in brain cells. In the brain, insulin and insulin receptors are vital to learning and memory.

A toxic protein found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer's removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, rendering those neurons insulin resistant.
The protein, known to attack memory-forming synapses, is called an ADDL for "amyloid ß-derived diffusible ligand." Science Daily

William L. Klein, professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, said he believes the findings are a major factor in the memory deficiencies caused by ADDLs in Alzheimer's brains and reveals a fundamental new connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. This offers hope for therapeutics. Finding ways to make those insulin receptors themselves resistant to the impact of ADDLs. might not be so difficult.

Early detection of Alzheimer's Disease

Klein not only helped identify the bio-marker, ADDL, but also helped develop a technique to detect it in patients with early stage Alzheimer's using bio-bar-code amplification technology.

To detect ADDLs, a magnetic microparticle and a gold nanoparticle are each outfitted with an antibody specific to the ADDL antigen. When in solution, the antibodies “recognize” and bind to the ADDL, sandwiching the protein between the two particles. Fienberg School of Medicine

After the “particle-ADDL-particle” sandwich is removed magnetically from solution, the bar-code DNA is removed from the sandwich and read using standard DNA detection methodologies. The researchers next would like to develop the technology so that the test could be done using a blood or urine sample instead of cerebrospinal fluid, which is more difficult to obtain.

Jun
27
2007

Have you ever wondered why medicine seems to be so ineffective in dealing with many neurological diseases? We have treatments and drugs to combat disorders throughout the rest of the body, but diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s remain difficult to treat.

A team of scientists recently created a drug that can cross the blood-brain barrier to treat neurological diseases in mice. Capillary walls in the brain are very effective at controlling which molecules can pass into the spaces between neurons. This protects the brain from potentially harmful chemicals in the blood. Until now, this also prevented much needed medicines from penetrating into an affected brain!

But, wait. If the brain is so great at preventing molecules from penetrating capillary walls, how do diseases get through? Some viruses, such as rabies, are able to trick the barrier into letting them through. Researches attached one of these trickster molecules from rabies onto a drug, and found that the drug was delivered through the capillary wall and into the brain.

In this study, scientists infected mice with Japanese encephalitis. Medicine delivered using the new method kept 80 percent of diseased mice alive for 30 days, while all of the untreated mice died.

While researchers tested this technique only on mice, soon this could provide huge benefits to humans. The drug used to combat encephalitis in mice uses a kind of RNA, short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs), that block the activity of a gene. This type of RNA can be custom tailored to target almost any disease-causing gene or protein. Combined with the molecules that can break through the blood-brain barrier, scientists could more effectively treat Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and many more neurological diseases.