January 18, 2017

There Could Be A Definite Way To Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition in which many important mental functions are inhibited. With the onset of Alzheimer’s, a patient may experience mild confusion and memory loss. However when the condition becomes more severe, patients may suffer dramatic personality changes and severe memory loss. This disease is categorized as a type of dementia, which is a common term used to describe brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s accounts for about 60-80% of the cases of dementia; making Alzheimer’s the most common form of dementia [1].

In order to get a better understanding of the disease, researchers have observed how genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors affect the brain. They believe that a combination of these factors have an effect on the brain, which further leads to development of the disease [2]. However in fewer than 5 percent of the cases, Alzheimer’s is caused by a genetic change which almost guarantees that a patient will develop this disease. In order to achieve a better understanding this concept, researchers at the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) attempt to understand the alterations that occur in early stages of the disease. One factor they examined is the alterations on bones, in attempt to offer biomarkers for earlier detection that does not involve examining the brain [3].

By definition, a biomarker can be defined as the presence of a substance which indicates the presence of a disease [4]. In this case, the researchers at NEOMED use the mouse model of Alzheimer’s to link between early bone loss and brain degeneration. Their aim was to move a step closer to determining biomarkers such as bone density loss, which could help in early identification of the development of Alzheimer’s.

In the mouse model, the researchers from NEOMED measured the bone density in htau mice before they developed significant signs of abnormality. They found that bone density was significantly reduced when the mice developed this disease. With a further analysis of the effects on the brains of the mice, researchers were able to conclude that there is a “significant link between early bone loss and brain degeneration” [3].

In lieu of this finding, researchers suggest that more research needs to be conducted to identify the same molecular mechanisms in humans. If these studies yield conclusive results, researchers will be able to act on developing the logistics for using bone density as a biomarker for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sources:

[1] What is Alzheimer’s? Alzhiemer’s Association. Retrieved from: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_what_is_alzheimers.asp

[2] Alzheimer’s Disease. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/home/ovc-20167098

[3] Bone Loss May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Paddock, Catherine. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314492.php

[4] What are Biomarkers? Strimbu, Kyle and Tavel, Jorge. US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078627/

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