Research so far has shown brain abnormalities to do with Alzheimers these include:
- Plaques- These are microscopic deposits (clumps) of beta-amyloid peptide (a protein). The clumps can block cells signalling to each other through synapses they also cause immune cells to be activated leading to inflammation.
- Tangles- These are coiled strands of the protein Tau.
- Loss of connections between brain cells.
- Inflammation- A result of the brain trying to defend itself against the other changes happening.
- The death of brain cells (and severe shrinkage of the brain tissue).
Treatment at the moment is aiming at:
- Producing a drug that prevents the formation of beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid breaks off from the larger protein called amyloid precursor protein (APP), and this is caused by 2 enzymes called beta-secretase and gamma-secretase. Drugs are trying to be created the prevent beta-amyloid clumping together, to stop the enzymes from breaking it off and even trying to use antibodies against beta-amyloid so it can be cleared from the brain when people start developing the clumps
- Producing a drug that prevents Tau molecules from collasping and twsting into tangles as it destroys a very important cell transport system.
- Also looking at insulin resistance and seeing how the brain cells use insulin and to see if it would be possible to prevent insulin from feeding changes related to alzheimer’s.
Many studies are also being done on blood testing or testing spinal fluid as well as brain imaging, to try and develop a brain scan that could detect the onset of alzeimer’s earlier.