Medical advancements in the fight against Alzheimer's

One in three people in the United States of America know someone who has been afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. These people are the ones who can explain exactly how devastating the disease can be to not only the person that is afflicted, but also those who love the patient and care for them. Since the disease can cause so much pain, many have joined in the fight against Alzheimer's, making contributions to research organizations and struggling to learn more about the disease that can make a person forget who they are. At the forefront of these contributions come many new studies showing promise for the future with regards to Alzheimer's. In this article, we'll discuss some of the advancements that have been made recently with regards to Alzheimer's disease.

One recent discovery in the field of medicine has shown doctors a little more about how the disease actually attacks the body. Since the disease was discovered, we've known that a build-up of plaque is present in the brain of a person who is afflicted with Alzheimer's. This is the only sure-fire way of diagnosing if a patient has the disease, and it can only be checked for when the individual is deceased via an autopsy.

Doctors in Quebec have recently learned a fundamental reason for which the plaque may be developing in Alzheimer's patients, and this explanation can lead towards more accurate ways of fighting the disease. The researchers discovered that there is a type of cell present in the brain that are known as microglia. They discovered that these cells were, in fact, the body's natural way of defeating the plaque that Alzheimer's is known for. However, in those afflicted with the disease, the microglia appears to be unable to fight off the plaques. For that reason, the plaque can multiply and grow, leading to the eventual complete loss of the patient's mental processes.

Upon this discovery, the researchers realized that curing Alzheimer's may rely on finding ways for the microglia to successfully fight off the plaque. For a solution, they turned to a different type of microglia found in a different part of the body - inside bone marrow. Employing the use of mice to test their hypothesis, the scientists were pleased to find that the microglia from the bone marrow successfully fought off the plaque caused by Alzheimer's.

This shows a remarkable amount of promise for the future of Alzheimer's research; eventually, the scientists hope to be able to take stem cells from a patient and then use those cells to aid the microglia already in the brain, forming a fighting-force to eliminate the plaque. The researchers also stressed that the use of anti-inflammatory drugs in order to treat Alzheimer's should be avoided, as it may interfere with the microglia trying to do their job.

While eliminating the plaque associated with Alzheimer's isn't a complete solution for the disease, if successful in human trials, it will allow patients to live with the disease for a longer period of time without as much cognitive loss.

Alzheimer's Disease on the Web


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