It seems like every week there's a new study about Alzheimer's disease – whether it be we are closer to finding a cure or discovering root causes that may one day lead to it.
The latest? Findings from a study led by Harvard University researchers suggest that Alzheimer's may be caused by the brain's past attempts to fight off infections, and that a protein known as beta amyloid may protect the brain from invading viruses. The team believes that Alzheimer's may be due to too much amyloid buildup in response to an infection.
Past research has only focused on the negative effects of beta amyloid and how it is harmful to the brain when it builds up into plaques and destroy synapses. It will be interesting to see what develops as more research is conducted. If additional studies confirm that a small amount of beta amyloid is actually beneficial to protecting the brain, it could change the way researchers approach potential treatments for Alzheimer's and other forms of memory loss. This news will no doubt lead to more studies about the blood-brain barrier in the aging brain as well as further research to learn more about the role that viruses and bacteria may play in the development of Alzheimer's.
As the research community continues to uncover more about the potential causes of Alzheimer's, I remain hopeful that we're closer to a breakthrough for early diagnosis and treatment of the disease, as well as closer to finding a cure one day. Some good news in the world of Alzheimer's funding came on June 7, when a key Senate subcommittee that funds medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) advanced a draft bill that would fund Alzheimer's research at nearly $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2017, which is $400 million more than the FY 2016 level. While this is certainly good news, our fight against Alzheimer's is not over and we must continue to educate the aging population about brain health, since it's never too early to start implementing lifestyle habits to help maintain cognitive function.
Source: Sunrise Senior Living