Scientists are making important steps towards curing Alzheimer’s disease. A new study, published in Nature Communications journal reveals a great discovery. They have been able to observe for the first time the way in which the synapses are being destroyed.
Synapses are the structures which make the connection between neurons in our brains. They are required for all the functions of the brain, especially for learning and for forming memories. At people with Alzheimer’s disease, synapses die prematurely, long before the nerve cells.
The new discovery identified a molecular mechanism which contributes to the destruction of the synapse. There is a protein, called neural cell-adhesion molecule 2 (NCAM2) which plays a significant role in synapses connection.
Scientists analyzed the brain tissue of several dead people and they found that people with Alzheimer’s had extremely lower levels of NCAM2 protein in the hippocampus (region of the brain). It seems that NCAM2 is destroyed by another protein, called beta-amyloid.
Alzheimer’s disease has been discovered in 1906 by Dr Alois Alzheimer. He has observed the symptoms of a woman who experienced memory loss and an unpredictable behavior before she died.
The American Alzheimer’s Association claims that Alzheimer’s disease is one of the first six leading causes of death in our country and among the old citizens, one in three is going to die with it.
Alzheimer is considered a type of dementia – maybe even the most common. It causes problems with memory, behavior and thinking. Symptoms develop slowly and worsen with time, eventually making it almost impossible for the affected persons to keep living a normal life.
Even if some might consider Alzheimer’s a normal stage of brain deterioration caused by aging, there are also people who develop early onset Alzheimer’s in their 40s or 50s.
Currently the disease has no cure, but the research for treating symptoms continues. Even if the progression of the disease cannot be stopped, there are treatments which can slow down the process at least temporarily. These are important since they can improve the quality of life both for the sufferer and for their caregivers.
The findings of the new study have a significant importance for future development of treatments that could prevent the destruction of NCAM2 and, thus, the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
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