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Abnormal proteins: newest discovery ignites hope in the battle against Alzheimer

Though the world is currently going through a lot of tragedies today, science is offering Alzheimer patients a silver ray of hope. A new study has discovered a type of protein that will allow predicting the possibility of Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, doctors will now have the potential to diagnose this cruel disease decades before symptoms begin to show.

Alzheimer’s disease

In general, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines Alzheimer’s as a type of neurodegenerative illness. The disease causes its victims, at the very least, to have difficulty remembering things. However, in most severe cases, patients would ex[erience an almost total inability to respond to the world and other people. 

Usually, the disease targets people over the age of 60. Thus, as a person grows older, the risk of developing it also increases.

Moreover, despite all the advancements humanity has reached in the medical field, experts still don’t precisely know why some people develop Alzheimer’s while others don’t. However, experts do agree that the reason is some sort of combination of certain genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Furthermore, experts still have no cure for this scary illness.

Detecting Alzheimer’s 

The Alzheimer’s Association believes that one factor behind the illness manifestation is the buildup of plaques of beta-amyloid protein between a person’s brain cells. Thus, the blockage stops the brian cells from functioning normally. They also noted that such changes could start taking place up to 20 years before Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed.

Hence, having the ability to identify such a procedure will give experts a better opportunity to treat this disease. Moreover, depending on the advancement of current research, experts might finally find a way to stop the illness’s manifestation entirely. Discovering the condition at an early stage will certainly tip the scales for the better. 

However, the current methods of discovering plaques buildup like  PET scans are considered universally both timely and expensive. Thus, they offer no practical solution since they are technically impractical as a large scale screening technique. 

Hence, doctors turned their attention towards blood tests aimed to detect these early plaques. They were able to identify these plaques through testing the blood for a specific beta-amyloid protein in the blood. 

the protein tau’s role

Currently, experts have now discovered another protein with a similar function. The tau protein is not only a simple protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it is also another key that helps solve the disease’s mysteries. Furthermore, tau proteins are usually found in the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord of someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

Moreover, since these proteins spillover from the cerebrospinal fluid into the bloodstream, identifying them through blood tests provide a sign that the person has a ‘preclinical’ case of Alzheimer’s disease.

Therefore, Dr. Randall J. Bateman, the Professor of Neurology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and senior author of the study said that “the finding of a unique tau species closely linked to changes caused by amyloid plaques will help identify and predict people who have or will likely develop Alzheimer’s disease.” He also added that “This will greatly accelerate research studies, including finding new treatments and improving diagnosis in the clinic with a simple blood test.”

Though the discovery is still at its early stages, it is a breakthrough in the Alzheimer’s field. The study offers hope for understanding this complex disease. Thus it provides a brighter future for dementia patients as well as future victims of this cruel disease.

References:

Abnormal proteins in the gut could contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. (n.d.). EurekAlert! Retrieved August 19, 2020, from https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/tps-api070220.phpHow toxic protein, spreads in Alzheimer’s disease. (n.d.). ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2020, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200529150623.htmHuzar, T. (2020, August 11). The study identifies a protein in the blood that may predict Alzheimer’s. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/study-identifies-protein-in-the-blood-that-may-predict-alzheimers#The-second-testStaff, S. X. (2020, July 28). The study reveals how renegade protein interrupts brain cell function in Alzheimer’s disease. Medical Press. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-07-reveals-renegade-protein-brain-cell.html