“Time for a Manhattan Project on Alzheimer’s” – The Conversation

by Marc Diamond

“Imagine if Alzheimer’s was treated like other common diseases. Instead of worrying about the prospect of slowly losing your memory, you might get a series of shots during middle age to prevent the onset of this neurological nightmare, just as we do to reduce the risk of flu. Or you could take a daily pill as many do to control their cholesterol or blood pressure.

alz reportIn Alzheimer’s, toxic clumps of protein kill brain cells which shrinks the size of the brain as the disease progresses. BlueRingMedia/Shutterstock.com

“That may sound improbable, given the long string of Alzheimer’s drugs that have failed to work in clinical trials, but I remain optimistic. As a physician-scientist leading research into the causes of neurodegenerative diseases, I believe that we are making significant progress on uncovering the roots of Alzheimer’s.

“Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that has stymied researchers for years. The disease develops when two proteins – A-beta and tau – accumulate in the brain. A-beta builds up outside of nerve cells, and tau inside them. Decades of study suggests that A-beta somehow leads to the accumulation of tau, which is what causes nerve cells to die. This may explain why early treatments focusing exclusively on A-beta failed. These ideas have led to new diagnostic criteria that take into account these two proteins to make the definitive diagnosis.”

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