Friday March 22, 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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Eye Test May Help in Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

Conversely, in the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer's disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places

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

A future non-invasive eye test may allow early detection of Alzheimer’s disease before memory loss kicks in, say a team led by an Indian-origin researcher.

Retina being an extension of the brain, the optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) will check patients’ vision as well as brain health, said the study published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina.

The researchers said that loss of blood vessels in retina would reflect changes in the brain, be it for both healthy people or Alzheimer’s patients.

“We know that there are changes that occur in the brain in the small blood vessels in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and because the retina is an extension of the brain, we wanted to investigate whether these changes could be detected,” said lead author Dilraj S. Grewal, ophthalmologist at Duke University.

Using the OCTA that uses light waves that reveal blood flow in every layer of the retina, the researches checked more than 200 people.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

They found that in people with healthy brains, microscopic blood vessels form a dense web at the back of the eye inside the retina — as was seen in 133 participants in a control group.

Conversely, in the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer’s disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places.

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The OCTA machines, relatively a new noninvasive technology, measures blood vessels that cannot be seen during a regular eye examination.

“It’s possible that these changes in blood vessel density in the retina could mirror what’s going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain, perhaps before we are able to detect any changes in cognition,” added Sharon Fekrat, ophthalmologist at the Duke University in the US. (IANS)