Early Alzheimer's Brain Damage Molecule Identified. Is A Cure Possible?
In a discovery that could pave way for improved Alzheimer's treatments, researchers have established that the disease breaks neuron connectivity networks even before characteristic symptoms appear.
According to Financial Express, researchers at University of New South Wales found that the disease tears apart synapses, the inter neuron connections, in the hippocampus region which is associated with memory functions of the brain. Researchers also established that damage to synapses occur when individuals may witness only mild cognitive impairment.
"We have identified a new molecular mechanism, which directly contributes to this synapse loss, a discovery we hope could eventually lead to earlier diagnosis of the disease and new treatments," Vladimir Sytnyk of the university's school of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences told Medical News Today.
By investigating brain tissues samples, Dr. Sytnyk and his team found lower levels of a protein called neural cell adhesion molecule 2 (NCAM2), associated with healthy synaptic connections. Mice studies revealed that characteristic beta-amyloid plaques seen in advance Alzheimer's which eventually damage neurons, tend to breakdown the molecule.
"It opens up a new avenue for research on possible treatments that can prevent the destruction of NCAM2 in the brain," he said.
Alzheimer's affects nearly 5 million American and the rate of disease incidence is increasing, placing an ever rising burden on healthcare.