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Researchers Have Successfully Stopped Alzheimer's Developing In Mice

14/10/2016 11:53

Researchers at Imperial College London have shown that by modifying the genetic makeup of a virus they can successfully inhibit Alzheimer’s disease from developing in mice.

Gene therapy is a controversial procedure because it involves physically altering genes outside of natural evolution.

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The study, in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Research UK and the European Research Council, found that by creating an artificial lentivirus vector (a retrovirus can that can attack both dividing and non-dividing cells) they were able to suppress the formation of amyloid plaques.

The build up of these amyloid plaques is one of the key symptoms that makes Alzheimer’s so dangerous. As they grow and create protein clumps the neurons that send electrical signals around the brain start to degrade and die out.

By inhibiting the development of this plaque the team found that after four months the mice who had received the gene therapy had fewer amyloid plaques than those animals that did not receive the therapy.

They also found that there were no losses of brain cells, suggesting that gene therapy, while drastic, could be a safe form of treatment.

Magdalena Sastre, PhD, and senior lecturer and faculty in the Department of Medicine, said “Although these findings are very early they suggest this gene therapy may have potential therapeutic use for patients. There are many hurdles to overcome, and at the moment the only way to deliver the gene is via an injection directly into the brain. However, this proof of concept study shows this approach warrants further investigation,”

  • 1 Finding it difficult to complete home tasks
    Alexandra Grablewski via Getty Images
    The Alzheimer's Association says that people who have the illness will find it difficult to complete daily tasks - this could range from cleaning to forgetting the rules of a game played regularly.
  • 2 Finding it hard to read and understand visual images.
    Rob Lewine via Getty Images
    The Alzheimer's Association claim that people may find it hard to read or understand certain images if suffering from the disease. They also may find it difficult to determine colour or contrast, which may stop them from driving.
  • 3 Misplacing things
    ladi59 via Getty Images
    People with Alzheimer's may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and also accuse others of stealing. This may become more and more frequent.
  • 4 Confusion with time or places.
    mediaphotos via Getty Images
    The Alzheimer's Association says that people who have the condition can lose track of time, dates and seasons. Sufferers may have trouble understanding things if they are not happening promptly. They may also lose track of where they are and how they got there.
  • 5 Solving problems.
    Martin Barraud via Getty Images
    Sufferers may feel changes in their ability to follow a plan or work with numbers. They'll probably have trouble following a basic recipe, or keeping track of monthly bills. They might find it difficult to concentrate and take much longer to do things than they did before. Source: Alzheimer's Association
  • 6 Withdrawel from social activities.
    Ryan McVay via Getty Images
    Someone with Alzheimer's may remove themselves from certain hobbies/interests and social activities.
  • 7 Mood changes
    The Welfare & Medical Care via Getty Images
    The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer's disease can change, they can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. Source: Alzheimer's Association
  • 8 Decreased or poor judgment.
    Martin Moos via Getty Images
    People with Alzheimer's may have poor judgment. This can include confusion over how much money they should spend. They may also pay less attention to grooming and cleaning themselves regularly. Source: Alzheimer's Association
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