Thursday May 23, 2019

Alzheimer’s Drug Holds Promise For Rare Neurological Disease, Suggest Researchers

In Alzheimer's, brain regions controlling memory are attacked first

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A lady suffering from Alzheimer's. Flickr

An existing therapy frequently used to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease might work on patients with a rare neurological disease that destroys language and currently has no treatment, suggest researchers.

Alzheimer’s patients are presently treated with a class of drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors which reduce its symptoms by preventing the breakdown of acetylcholine — a chemical messenger that contributes to learning and memory.

The study, led by Northwestern University researchers, found that individuals with Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) undergo the same loss of cholinergic neurons and axons in the forebrain as individuals with Alzheimer’s. Therefore, they might also benefit from these cholinesterase inhibitors.

The team focused on the type of PPA that shows a typical Alzheimer’s pathology — the plaques and tangles — in the brain.

However, these patients tend to be excluded from Alzheimer’s-related clinical trials and are less likely to be prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors.

“That’s why our study is so important for patients,” said Changiz Geula from the varsity.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

No one knew before that this cholinergic system is destroyed in patients with PPA associated with Alzheimer’s but we’ve now demonstrated that and have justified the need for clinical trials with this therapy, the researchers said.

“The findings provide the basic scientific foundation to spur a clinical trial to test the treatment on patients with PPA,” Geula said.

The study, reported in the Neurology journal, noted that chemical brain scans called positron emission tomography (PET) can determine if there is Alzheimer’s disease pathology in someone’s brain while they are alive.

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This makes it possible to see if someone has the type of PPA associated with Alzheimer’s disease or not.

In individuals with PPA, brain regions responsible for language, located in the left hemisphere in the majority of the population, are damaged first.

Patients with PPA progressively continue to lose their ability to talk, read, write or understand what they hear. In Alzheimer’s, brain regions controlling memory are attacked first. (IANS)

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Smartphone Game can Help Detect Alzheimer’s Risk

The team studied gaming data taken from 27,108 UK players, aged 50-75 years and the most vulnerable age-group to develop Alzheimer’s in the next decade. They compared this benchmark data with a smaller lab-based group of 60 people who underwent genetic testing

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

A specially designed smartphone game can detect people at the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, say researchers.

The game called Sea Hero Quest, downloaded and played by over 4.3 million people worldwide, helped researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) better understand dementia by seeing how the brain works in relation to spatial navigation.

The game has been developed by Deutsche Telekom in partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK, University College London (UCL) and the University of East Anglia.

“Dementia will affect 135 million people worldwide by 2050. We need to identify people to reduce their risk of developing dementia,” said Lead researcher Professor Michael Hornberger from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

As players made their way through mazes of islands and icebergs, the research team translated every 0.5 seconds of gameplay into scientific data. The team studied how people who are genetically pre-disposed to Alzheimer’s play the game compared with those who are not.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

The results, published in the journal PNAS, showed people genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s can be distinguished from those who are not on specific levels of the Sea Hero Quest game.

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The findings are particularly important because a standard memory and thinking test cannot distinguish between the risk and non-risk groups. “Our findings show we can reliably detect such subtle navigation changes in at-genetic-risk of Alzheimer’s compared with healthy people without any symptoms or complaints,” said Hornberger.

The team studied gaming data taken from 27,108 UK players, aged 50-75 years and the most vulnerable age-group to develop Alzheimer’s in the next decade. They compared this benchmark data with a smaller lab-based group of 60 people who underwent genetic testing. (IANS)