Hope for the Victims of Alzheimer's Disease

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Hope for the Victims of Alzheimer

Alzheimer’s disease involves degeneration of the nervous system, causing dementia. This incurable, progressive neurodegenerative disease is the most common form of adult-onset dementia, afflicting over 5 million people around the world.

This tragic disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. But death takes an average of eight years, during which it’s not just the ones with the disease who suffer, but also those close to the patient, as they see their loved one slipping away mentally.

Traditionally, treatments for the disease have been therapies that have targeted the late stage, but they have not proven to be very effective. Other treatments have focused on indicators of the disease’s progression, such as the development of beta amyloid plaques in the brain. But it appears these are only indicators, not causes, and these therapies have also not been effective, either.

Now, after decades of research, efforts are finally paying off with new discoveries that promise to turn the corner on this crippling disease. These discoveries include new methods for early detection, effective new treatments, and the identification of lifestyle choices that can lower the chances of developing this disease for those who are at high risk.

As with most every disease, early detection dramatically increases the chance of successful treatment and cure. Alzheimer’s disease is no exception; however, no method for an early direct measure of the disease has been developed. Detection has been left to signs and symptoms that signal the disease might be developing. Therefore, early detection has meant noticing signs early on, not discovering physiological changes brought on by the disease.

Consequently, by the time symptoms appear, the window may have already closed for certain treatments. But now, two different approaches have been discovered for early detection of physical manifestations of the disease.

One comes from researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, working in collaboration with scientists from Northwestern University in Illinois.1 From their experiments, they have concluded that diabetes is linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Working on a hypothesis, researchers discovered substantial increases in amyloid beta peptide pathology in the brain cortex and hippocampus along with diabetes. This pathology was not observed when there was no diabetes.

Formation of amyloid beta “oligomer” assemblies in the brain is one of the most widely recognized symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, providing a possible connection between the two diseases...

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