One of the most exciting things about the 21st t century is that our time has some of the biggest discoveries yet many of us remain oblivious to them. A similar situation occurred when researchers found out the cause of Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is one of the most common diseases which affects about 5.5 million Americans. Any neurodegenerative disease is complicated, but Alzheimer’s was a mystery of its own. Those who are victims of Alzheimer’s have an abnormal buildup of proteins, called plaques and tau tangles in their brain. These proteins aren’t the good kind, quite obviously, they slowly destroy brain cells and the connections they have to the brain. This greatly affects the patient’s ability to think and remember because what is a brain other than a complex mess of neurons and electric signals.
The brain cannot repair itself unlike other organs, such as skin, so the damage done by Alzheimer’s is irreversible. On top of that, the cure for Alzheimer’s hasn’t been found yet. This doesn’t mean scientists worldwide haven’t been working on a drug to solve this.
Consider watching this video to know the relation between sleep and Alzheimer’s.
We started off with what causes Alzheimer’s, so here is the answer. First off, there are two types of Alzheimer’s; early-onset and late-onset. In most early-onset cases, the cause is usually genetic mutations that have been passed down to the family. Mutations in one of the three genes called APP, PSEN1 and PSEN2 cause the development of early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The issue is, the majority of Alzheimer’s cases are late-onset, affecting people over the age of 65. Late-onset Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be hereditary, meaning it may not be caused by genetic mutations passed down by your parents. The cause for this type of Alzheimer’s remains unknown until a study in 2019 spurred the headlines. The study suggests that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a type of bacteria that causes gum disease, may also play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. Individuals who had Alzheimer’s also had this bacterium in their brains.
Most of the study was conducted on mice. The experiment showed that the bacterium was able to travel from the mouth to the brain where it inflicts damage to the brain cells and increases the production of the beta-amyloid proteins which in turn cause the plaque and proteins mentioned beforehand. Other than this, researchers also found that they could stop this damage by targeting toxic enzymes produced by the bacteria.
All of this is very interesting and new but our issue begins where the mice’s brains end because mice’s brains and human brains are not the same. Many studies about late-onset Alzheimer’s are done on mice. Some of them were successful and some weren’t. Unfortunately, the successful ones deemed to be unfruitful when they reached the human stage.
The theory of bacteria being the culprit in cases of Alzheimer’s wasn’t common up until two years ago. But as this theory gained more attention, scientists have been figuring out possible ways of how an infection could lead to Alzheimer’s. In fact, one researcher even said that amyloid plaque itself may not be the one causing harm, it could be some unknown infectious agents.
A theory like this is actually supported by a study published in the journal Neuron that found that the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s’ patients have a higher level of herpesviruses than the deceased brains of normal people. Herpesviruses are the microbe most commonly suspected of being related to Alzheimer’s.
We now know more about aimers than we ever had. Many scientists in this field are actually expecting multiple causes of Alzheimer’s. There are mint ongoing trials in the drug industry regarding the cure of Alzheimer’s. As for now, all people can do is lead a healthy life to reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s.
Until Next Time,
Team Doctor ASKY!