Caregiver Insights: Senior In Home Care

New Breakthrough in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s

By Patrick Philbrick-Director on Feb 22, 2015 11:10:53 PM

Sacramento, CA - New Breakthrough in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimers-Featured-Image-320x202.pngResearchers at Stanford University have published a study indicates that the plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed by boosting the body’s own immune system.

Alzheimer’s disease kills brain cells by growing a sticky “amyloid-beta” plaque that grows up along the connective nerve tissue, eventually choking the brain cells to death. The process is similar to what some climbing, coiling, perennial vines do, like Kudzu in the Southern United States, which has been nicknamed “the vine that ate the South.” As the plaques grow up along the connective tissues of brain cells, these brain cells die. Over time, enough cells die so that Alzheimer’s patients develop large empty spaces in their brains, a tell-tale marker of the disease in CT scans.

The researchers at Stanford have discovered that a single protein called EP2 may be responsible for the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease. It seems that in healthy, young brains this protein does not exist. In this condition, cells called ‘microglia’ act like little vacuum cleaners cleansing the brain of the sticky amyloid plaques before they can do any harm. The microglia also clean up dead cells, bacteria, viruses, and anything else that is not supposed to be there. This is how the immune system in the brain functions in young, healthy brains. Apparently, aging brains prone to Alzheimer’s start producing the EP2 protein which inhibits the function of the microglia, therefore allowing the amyloid plagues to begin growing unchecked.

Blocking the EP2 protein from developing in mice reversed memory loss. Using a drug developed specifically for this study, and injecting into mice with Alzheimer’s symptoms, they were able to stop and even reverse the formation of plaques in the brains of these mice. The brain is composed of about 10-15% of these microglia cells. Their job is to navigate throughout the brain, acting like enforcers against disease. They even have the ability to alert other microglia when they spot trouble, and call in reinforcement as needed to fight disease, as well fighting back against inflammation.

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and unlike the other leading causes of death which are all declining, Alzheimer’s disease is increasing at an alarming rate. There are approximately 500,000 people dying each year from this disease. In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided care for Alzheimer’s patients. The cost of this care is estimated to be more than $220 billion dollars.

The researchers at Stanford are hoping to perfect this drug therapy, and develop a treatment for Alzheimer’s patients that blocks the EP2 protein. This would allow the normal functioning of the brains immune system, stop the growth of the amyloid plaques, and possibly even reverse the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s.

For more information read the full report in the Stanford Medicine Journal:

Harmony Home Care provides services for the greater Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado Counties including: Sacramento, El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Granite Bay, Roseville, Cameron Park, Placerville and surrounding areas. For more information and a FREE assessment CALL (916) 414-9100.

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Caring for an aging parent or spouse can be overwhelming. It takes a lot of time and energy, especially with so much already on your plate.

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