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Researchers Identify New Alzheimer's Related Memory Disorder

Update Date: Nov 14, 2014 02:31 PM EST

A multi-institutional study has defined and established criteria for a new neurological disease closely resembling Alzheimer's disease called primary age-related tauopathy (PART). 

Patients suffering from PART tend to develop cognitive impairment that can be indistinguishable from Alzheimer's disease, however they lack amyloid plaques. 

Researchers believe that awareness of this neurological disease will help doctors diagnose and develop more effective treatments for patients with different types of memory impairment. 

"To make an Alzheimer's diagnosis you need to see two things together in a patient's brain: amyloid plaques and structures called neurofibrillary tangles composed of a protein called tau," said Dr. Nelson, a professor of neuropathology at the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, in the press release. "However, autopsy studies have demonstrated that some patients have tangles but no plaques and we've long wondered what condition these patients had."

"Until now, PART has been difficult to treat or even study because of lack of well-defined criteria," said Dr. Nelson. "Now that the scientific community has come to a consensus on what the key features of PART are, this will help doctors diagnose different forms of memory impairment early. These advancements will have a big impact on our ability to recognize and develop effective treatments for brain diseases seen in older persons."

The study was published in the current issue of Acta Neuoropathologica.

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