Unraveling Alzheimer's Disease

Research just published in Nature links Alzheimer's disease and prion diseases. The prion protein is the receptor for amyloid-beta, the peptide that makes up Alzheimer's plaques. It's not my area, but Ed's explanation is fascinating. This could be big, so go read the details at Not Exactly Rocket Science:

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia in the world, affecting more than 26 million people. Creutzfeld-Jacob disease (CJD), another affliction is far less common, but both conditions share many of the same qualities. They are fatal within a few years of diagnosis, they are incurable and they involved the crippling degeneration of the brain's neurons. Now, a group of Yale researchers have discovered that the two diseases are also linked by a pair of critical proteins.

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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia in the world, affecting more than 26 million people. Creutzfeld-Jacob disease (CJD), another affliction is far less common, but both conditions share many of the same qualities. They are fatal within a few years of diagnosis, they are…
Alzheimer's is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by the formation of senile plaques consisting of amyloid-beta protein. The molecular genetic basis of Alzheimer's is very complex. Amyloid-beta is a toxic protein fragment produced by abnormal processing of amyloid precursor…
This three-dimensional reconstruction of an amyloid fibril (found at Discover) was created by Nikolaus Grigorieff and his colleagues at Brandeis University, by computer processing of a transmission electron cryomicroscopy image. It is the most detailed image yet of the abnormally folded protein…
Mild cognitive impairment affects many cognitive functions, particularly memory. People with mild cognitive impairment are 3-4 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease; hence, it is regarded as a transition stage between normal age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's Disease.…

I haven't read the full paper yet but it certainly sounds very interesting. On the other hand, the amyloid hypothesis of AD has come under scrutiny now. While amyloid AÃ is certainly associated with AD, two recent major clinical trials that targeted AÃ with drugs and antibodies failed to show any improvement in patients. While this could also be because AD is simply not diagnosable at an early stage yet, some scientists think we need to go back to the drawing board and take a look at the basics again. Another candidate that has sometimes been shown to correlate with disease burden is the Tau protein. The research continues. Meanwhile, you may be interested in the discovery of fish sex.

Ah, but there's also a link between the prion protein and Tau! It's not a receptor, but it does seem to associate with it.

The Virginia folks have been pushing a mitochondrial hypothesis for AD and PD for years, but I don't think it's catching on...

Experts tell us that routine exercise, activities, eating proper and so forth will reduce risks of Alzheimer disease. Experts have found that ALC, which is a supplement sold in Europe has proven to decrease risks of Alzheimer disease.