Thursday November 15, 2018

A ray of hope: Study reveals Alzheimer’s may be caused by misfiring immune system

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Alzheimer’s
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Alzheimer’s

By NewsGram Staff Writer

What could be more frightening than forgetting your own identity?

Finally, a new study suggests that deprivation of an amino acid called arginine may contribute to Alzheimer’s, achronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. It is expected that the finding could throw some light in creating new treatment strategies for patients suffering from the incapacitating illness.

A group of scientists at Duke University disclosed that their studies of Alzheimer’s in mice had shown a new process that they believe contributes to the disease’s development.

The team focused on the immune system of the rat found that cells designed to protect the brain from infection will uncharacteristically consume arginine during the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

The finding suggested that jamming this process with a drug helps in preventing the formation of ‘plaques’ in the brain that are the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, there is no assurance that a method tested on animals can work the same way on humans, still the study presents a new ray of hope for the patients of Alzheimer’s. It is so because, until now, the exact role of the immune system and arginine in Alzheimer’s was completely unidentified.

Now, researchers’ next plan is to test older mice suffering from an advanced form of Alzheimer’s.

As per the 2015 statistics of Alzheimer’s Disease International, there are nearly 44 million people worldwide who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.

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Novel AI Tool May help to Predict Alzheimer’s risk

Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization

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AI technique can boost brain scans to predict Alzheimer early. Pixabay

A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has successfully trained a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that may soon help doctors to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease and provide intervention.

The team, from the McGill University in Canada, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data.

This specific algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s in the next five years.

“At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer’s and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a ‘doctor’s assistant’ that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment,” Mallar Chakravarty, assistant professor at the University’s Department of Psychiatry.

“For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it altogether,” she added.

Alzheimer's
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

For the study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, the team trained their algorithms using data from more than 800 people ranging from normal healthy seniors to those experiencing mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

“We are currently working on testing the accuracy of predictions using new data. It will help us to refine predictions and determine if we can predict even farther into the future,” Chakravarty noted.

With more data, doctors would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s.

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Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Presently, there is no truly effective treatment for this disease. (IANS)