“20 or more years before symptoms appear, brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease may begin,” says the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report.
That seems like a very long time, long enough to intervene early if we would just know the exact cause. Knowing its cause and how Alzheimer’s forms in the brain may lead to its treatment.
While such a breakthrough has yet to happen, researchers got a bit closer as they have identified new brain and genetic details linked to the disease.
Alzheimer’s in Delaware
According to the report, in 2015, Delaware saw 264 deaths from Alzheimer’s disease. There were also 1,576 visits to the emergency department per 1,000 beneficiaries in 2017. Medicaid costs for Americans ages 65 and older with Alzheimer’s or other dementia was projected to reach $226,000,000 in 2018 and $307,000,000 by 2025. That’s more than a 35% increase. There are 18,000 Delawareans projected to have Alzheimer’s this year. And this number is expected to increase by 27.8% by 2025, accounting for 23,000 people with Alzheimer’s in Delaware.
Tau, BAG3 Gene, and Alzheimer’s
A key event of Alzheimer’s disease is the build up of plaque in the brain. The plaque, a result of toxic proteins accumulation, causes interference among the brains internal communications thus causing cognitive functioning problems.
In the study, researchers located a specific brain cell around which one of these toxic proteins – tau – likes to accumulate. They also found evidence regarding genetic profile dispositions that make certain people more vulnerable to this phenomenon than others.
The researchers identified BAG3 – a gene responsible for clearing your brain from proteins – “as a hub, or master regulator, gene.” When they reduced BAG3 levels in primary neurons, the pathological tau accumulation got worse. But when they increased BAG3, the pathological tau accumulation got weaker.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease. Hopefully this study on how Alzheimer’s forms in the brain is one step closer to the day when the disease’s effects will become forgotten.
Do you have a loved one with dementia?
What have you found helpful?
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