News / Health

New Alzheimer's Research Raise Hope for Treatment, Cure

Vidushi Sinha

The Obama administration last week committed $50 million to accelerate research on Alzheimer's disease. Scientists say recent breakthroughs in understanding the causes and progression of the brain-wasting illness give them new hope that an effective treatment or even a cure can be found.

Scientists working to unravel the mysteries of Alzheimer's disease are excited by two recent studies. Both provide important new insights on how the disease spreads through the brain.

Guy Eakin is vice president of the American Health Assistance Foundation, which helped to fund one of the breakthrough studies.  He says the study found that the progression of Alzheimer's disease depends on the transmission of an abnormal brain protein known as tau.

"Within our brain, one cell can transfer this tau protein to another cell and then that next cell will become diseased and transfer the tau protein to the next cell down the line. And that actually begins to explain how we see Alzheimer's developing," added Eakin.

Eakin says not every research effort leads to a breakthrough, but the accumulated findings from many previous studies of Alzheimer's, using both animal and human subjects, have drawn a much clearer picture of how the disease devastates the brain.

"In Alzheimer's disease, the destruction of tissue occurs in kind of a spiraling fashion and gradually encompasses the motor skills as well as emotional areas of the brain and other sensory mechanisms of the brain and ultimately overwhelms the brain's capacity," added Eakin.

Another important Alzheimer's study by Dr. William Jagust and colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, finds that people whose daily routines include stimulating mental activities, such as reading, writing or solving puzzles, develop fewer of the amyloid plaque deposits in the brain that are the signature of Alzheimer's.

"What we found [is that] the more cognitively active they were, the less amyloid they had in the Brain," said Jagust.

And another recent study shows that those amyloid plaque deposits can start forming in younger adults and not just in the elderly, as researchers had previously believed.

Dr. Brian Appleby did not take part in that study, but treats dementia patients at Cleveland Clinic.

"We might be able to do something much earlier in life to prevent the process," said Appleby.

Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), believes Alzheimer's research is gaining momentum, but there is still a long ways to go before the disease is fully understood.

"We have a beginning of a molecular picture. I don't want to say that we have all the other pieces together," said Collins.

Some of those pieces may be found in the 50 to 80 drug compounds designed to treat Alzheimer's that are now undergoing trials.  Scientists are hoping that at least a few of these drugs will help to slow or stop the disease in its tracks, so that a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is no longer a death sentence.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid