Alzheimer's Disease Research
Alzheimer’s Disease Research
Alzheimers disease is sometimes referred to as the long goodbye. It is characterized by the degeneration of an individual’s neurological functions. Its most common symptom is memory loss otherwise known as dementia. There is great interest in Alzheimer’s disease research, particularly with the increasing aging population of baby boomers, which is very significant. It is estimated that this disease affects more than 5 million families in the United States alone.
Alzheimers disease starts slowly and at first, symptoms are dismissed as being part of aging. However, the symptoms become progressively worse over time until an individual has to rely completely on another person. Basically what happens is that the brain cells or neurons deteriorate or are lost. The loss and deterioration of the brain cells result in brain atrophy. Alzheimers disease is also characterized by the accumulation of proteins in the brain that is abnormal that leads to the formation of what are referred to as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.
Current Alzheimer’s disease research has identified that amyloid plaques are the clumps of protein that develop in between nerve cells while the neurofibrillary tangles are the clumps of protein that develop inside the nerve cells. Research has also discovered that the amyloid plaques develop first and then the neurofibrillary tangles develop as the disease advances. This discovery has caused Alzheimer’s disease research to focus on finding a way to stop the accumulation of amyloid plaques.
Much of the Alzheimer’s disease research is geared towards identifying the underlying mechanisms of this age related degenerative disease. Finding the underlying mechanism may lead to the invention of an effective cure. Even though the cause is not yet known there is hope that it will be discovered and consequently a treatment and method of prevention.
Scientists carrying out Alzheimer’s disease research are studying the progression of the disease and how the brain changes in the hope of discovering its cause. On top of that, scientists are also involved in the post mortem study of the brains of people who died of Alzheimers disease. There are a number of brain banks most of them located at the research centers. The idea behind the brain banks is to have family members of patients with Alzheimers voluntarily donate the brain of the patient as soon as they die. It is critical to make arrangements for this donation in good time as brain tissue is known to deteriorate very quickly post mortem.
Research in Alzheimers disease is not only focused on finding the cause of the disease and how to prevent it. There is research being carried out to develop new and better treatments, research aimed at care giving for patients with Alzheimers disease and also research focused on the improvement of early diagnosis of the disease.
There is a great deal of Alzheimer’s disease research being carried out throughout the world. There are about 30 Alzheimers research centers in the United States along.