Breakthrough Study Could Lead To Alzheimer's Prevention
Alzheimer’s symptoms could be prevented by targeting a protein that destroys the brain connections, a study suggests.
Scientists have found they can neutralise the protein, largely responsible for Alzheimer’s symptoms, using a specific antibody.
Lead researcher, Dr Patricia Salinas of Universoty College London, hopes the findings could lead to a drug treatment that protects against the effects of Alzheimer’s in the next 10 years.
Previous studies have linked the build-up of toxic protein amyloid-beta to Alzheimer’s disease but the latest research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, has found that amyloid-beta stimulates the production of another protein, Dkk1.
Dkk1 destroys the connections between neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain linked to learning and memory.
Laboratory tests on mice revealed that Dkk1 can be neutralised with an antibody without any damage to the exposed neurons.
Dr Salinas said: "These novel findings raise the possibility that targeting this secreted Dkk1 protein could offer an effective treatment to protect synapses against the toxic effect of amyloid-beta," she said.
"Importantly, these results raise the hope for a treatment and perhaps the prevention of cognitive decline early in Alzheimer's disease."
Dkk1 helps the brain construct its “wiring” in early development but it has no known function later in life when its production can be increased by amyloid-beta.
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "By understanding what happens in the brain during Alzheimer's, we stand a better chance of developing new treatments that could make a real difference to people with the disease.
"Studies like this are an essential part of that process but more work is needed if we are to take these results from the lab bench to the clinic."
This morning, speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Professor Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, called upon the World Health Organisation to prioritise dementia alongside other conditions like cancer, lung disease and heart disease.
Professor Piot debunked the common misconception that dementia is a natural part of ageing and challenged the notion that nothing can be done to tackle it, but said that a lack of research funding could make dementia a “global health time bomb”.
Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“Professor Piot is quite right to declare dementia a global health priority, which will be further thrown into relief by a forecast doubling in those living with the condition in the next generation. The social and economic impact of dementia in the UK and Europe is already enormous, but it is set to explode in the developing world in the coming years. While we have taken the initiative of developing a national dementia strategy at home, similar action plans will be needed around the world.
“The care challenge dementia poses now and in the future is profound, but investment in research now could pay dividends in future. The only answer to dementia is high quality research to deliver new effective treatments; that research funding lags so far behind other diseases is a sad fact that could become our biggest failure to those affected.”
Lifestyle Changes To Help Prevent Dementia
Drink Decaffeinated Coffee
A study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/01/decaffeinated-coffee-preserves-memory-diabetes_n_1246240.html" target="_hplink">decaffeinated coffee improves the brain's energy metabolism - linked to cognitive decline</a> - in those with Type 2 diabetes. "This is the first evidence showing the potential benefits of decaffeinated coffee preparations for both preventing and treating cognitive decline caused by type 2 diabetes, ageing, and/ or neurodegenerative disorders," said lead researcher, Dr Giulio Maria Pasinett.
Play Brain-Teasing Games
Everyday <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/01/puzzles-and-exercise-help-beat-dementia-symptoms_n_1122502.html" target="_hplink">games, puzzles and tasks were able to postpone decline in cognitive function and the ability to carry out everyday tasks, in dementia patients, for at least a year</a>, according to research from the University of Erlangen in Germany, published in the journals BMC Medicine.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/20/eat-less-remember-more-and-other-memory-boosters_n_1160584.html" target="_hplink">Eating fewer calories could help boost memory and cognitive function</a>, according to a study at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. Researchers hope to mimic the same effect with a drug in the future, bringing hope to Alzheimer's sufferers as well as those suffering from injury-related memory loss.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre and School of Medicine found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/30/eating-fish-protects-against-alzheimers_n_1120156.html" target="_hplink">people who ate baked or grilled fish regularly reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer's</a>. Reseracher Cyrus Raji said: "The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled (grilled) fish at least one time per week had better preservation of grey matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer's disease."
Play The Wii Fit
<a href="http://lifestyle.aol.co.uk/2012/01/17/why-a-wii-workout-could-be-better-than-the-gym-for-over-50s/" target="_hplink">Working out using virtual games such as the Wii Fit could slow cognitive decline in the over 50s</a>, researchers from Union College in the US found. Participants aged between 58 and 99 were given a 3D exercise game to play. Compared to the control group who were asked to use a regular exercise bike, the 'cybercycle' group had a 23% decrease in advancement of mild cognitive impairment and showed improved 'executive function'.
Do The Seven-Step Plan
A study in The Lancet Neurology suggest that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/07/19/new-study-shows-seven-way_n_901934.html" target="_hplink">3m cases of Alzheimer's across the world could be prevented in seven simple ways</a>. The report recommends quitting smoking, increasing physical activity, controlling your blood pressure and diabetes risk factors as well as managing depression and obesity to help combat the disease.