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Biotech Science

Alzheimer's Cause Identified? 71

Posted by timothy
from the can't-remember dept.
JediJeremy writes "Naturehas this article on the possibility that researchers have identified the cause of Alzheimers. Their research says that amyloid beta, a protein in the brain, may cause plaques and makes an enzyme -BACE1-that causes dimentia. In the study mice, those without BACE1 did not get dimentia, while the others did. The article also says that there are current market drugs that can stop BACE1 production and all that needs to be done is for a human trial to begin. Looks like there is hope for those that suffer."
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Alzheimer's Cause Identified?

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  • Relosing one's mind (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @07:24PM (#7941194)
    One of the ugly little side effects of dementia correcting drugs is that they eventually stop working. The drug helps the patient for a while (they regain functioning) but then the mind inevitably succumbs to age a second time. Patients and family get to suffer through the process of losing their mind, memories, and personality a second time.

    I can only hope that this drug helps patients before they suffer a decline in mental faculties -- going through it once is bad enough, losing your mind twice is hell for both the patient and their loved ones.
    • by DrJAKing (94556)
      I don't think anything can give you back brain function lost through dementia. The aim of anti-Alzheimer's treatment so far has been to slow down (or ideally stop) the decline. That means the trick is to spot it early enough, and there are quite a few projects developing tests for this. But reversing the damage is another matter; initially what is lost tends to be memory, and it may be that once the affected brain regions have been damaged, the memories are lost for good.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No, I think you're thinking of parkinson's correcting drugs. They exhibit the funny bounce effect alright, but parkinson's isn't like alzheimers. Parkinsons sufferers lose reliable motor function, alzheimers lose reliable mind function. Not nice :-(((((

    • by frovingslosh (582462) on Sunday January 11, 2004 @02:17AM (#7943189)
      One of the ugly little side effects of dementia correcting drugs is that they eventually stop working.

      But here the drug isn't being used for dementia correcting, it's being used to stop BACE1 production. As long as the drug continues to do that, it holds the promise of preventing Alzheimer's. Of course, the last line of the Slashdot story (Looks like there is hope for those that suffer.) is off the mark - block BACE1 production and you may prevent the disease; but there's no reason to think that if you block production you somehow crue those who already have the disease and the plaques.

  • Great news! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 10, 2004 @07:25PM (#7941203)
    What was the news again?
  • hopefully (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    nature didn't misspell dementia.

    twice.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      nature didn't misspell dementia.

      twice.


      scientists probably would take a "dim" view of that mentia alright.
  • I know that B is not literally two 's's, but at least *I* still think the protein called "ass" is kind of humorous.
  • Dementia (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by maunleon (172815)
    Is Dimentia how you spell Dementia when you got Dementia?

  • by mistert2 (672789) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @07:36PM (#7941277) Journal
    But this sounds more promising than cooking with aluminum pots and pans.

    I question the high rate of this problem and the high rate of TV watching of its victims. I don't think TV builds up the plaque in the brain. I think it comes down more to life style.

    The progression of this disease is quite depressing. I bought a house from a couple, and the wife was getting into to the later stages. They moved next door to their daughter, because he could hardly leave the house.

    I hope this drug doesn't just delay the disease, we need a cure. I want to start watching TV again.

    Don't you ever wonder if your starting to get this. Walk into a room and forget why you are there.

    Don't you ever wonder if your starting to get this. Start posting and .....

  • This is great! (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChopsMIDI (613634) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @07:48PM (#7941342) Homepage
    This is exciting stuff.

    My grandmother suffers from dementia. For a while (before her current medication), every few weeks she would have a dream where one of her children or grandchildren were out to kill her and she began mistaking them for real life.

    Once we went over there and found she had hidden a knife under one of her table-cloths, and once she even ran away because she thought one of us was going to blow up her house.

    It would be fantastic to see a cure.
    • Re:This is great! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KDan (90353) on Sunday January 11, 2004 @11:13AM (#7944755) Homepage
      Ditto to the wish for a cure. My grandmother has dementia too, and it hurts me just to see what she's degenerated into. :-( It's almost as if she was already dead - she barely recognises me or my father (her son), and even if she does, the only way she shows it is by looking at one of us for a long time. The only way in which she still seems to function as a conscious human being is that when my dad touches here and says "mom?" in the right tone of voice she slightly turns towards him and says "hmm?" like a normal human being would. But that's about it.

      Alzheimer's is a terrible, terrible disease that I would not wish on my worst enemies...

      Daniel
      • My grandmother has dementia too:: slip of the keyboard, i meant she has Alzheimer's too.

        Daniel
      • Alzheimer's is a terrible, terrible disease that I would not wish on my worst enemies...


        Not me, I'd love it if Osama bin Laden got it... Maybe he'd start bombing all the wrong countries... Or forget that he's hiding from us... Or pull the pin on a grenade and try to figure out what it is (tick, tick). All good stuff..

        So, I would definitely wish it on my worst enemies...

    • Once we went over there and found she had hidden a knife under one of her table-cloths, and once she even ran away because she thought one of us was going to blow up her house.


      Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you...
  • by astrashe (7452) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @07:50PM (#7941349) Journal
    I'm not a doctor, but it sounds to me that the treatments they're proposing would prevent the plaques from building up in the first place -- I'm not sure that they'd remove it once it was in place.

    • There's a book [google.com] entitled "Toxic Metal Syndrome" that claims that these plaques can be removed using chelation therapy [google.com]. The links are Google searches, so you'll be able to get a lot of viewpoints on both the book and the therapy.
      • My father had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. As a result, he had a few TIA's (mini-strokes) that would briefly impair his speech and/or vision. His doctor(s) prescibed Plavix to prevent clotting, some anti-cholesterol drug(s) and blood pressure medication.

        Rather than blow all that money on prescribed drugs, he was talked into chelation therapy by a local country doctor to remove plaque from his blood.

        He had chelation treatments for about 3 years, during which time he also had more TIA's and d
        • It's hard to believe that this is the science group. It's unfortunate that your father suffered from a massive stroke. Strokes also run in my family and it's likely my mother will suffer the same fate. However, your story doesn't prove or disprove anything. Your father could have suffered a massive stroke while taking the Plavix. There's no way to know. The NIH is currently undertaking a clinical trial [nih.gov] to study the efficacy of chelation therapy. The results of this study should be available in another 4 yea
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday January 12, 2004 @01:48PM (#7954531)
        > There's a book entitled "Toxic Metal Syndrome" that claims that these plaques can be removed using chelation therapy. The links are Google searches, so you'll be able to get a lot of viewpoints on both the book and the therapy.

        There are also Quacks who sell Books and Bogus Cures based on Bogus Claims and Bad Science.

        Here is a good place to start if you'd like to understand why Chelation Therapy [quackwatch.org] and Homeopathy [homeowatch.org] are bunk.

        If you don't want the specific debunkings because you're afraid someone might have something negative to say about your particular "alternative health remedy" (which is obviously Not Bunk, because You're No Mere Tool of the Medical Conspiracy, and because You're Obviously Too Smart To Fall For Bunk, and because Science Doesn't Have All The Answers Anyways!), at least read the articles on How Quackery Sells [quackwatch.org] 25 ways to spot it [quackwatch.org] and do your own due diligence.

        • A good place to start were the original Google links that provided a myriad of pro and con links so that people could actually use their own judgement. But then thinking appears to be something you're afraid people either will do or won't do they way you want them to.

          (My apologies for not using lots of Bogus Capitalized Phrases - I guess the Thought Police are working to Prevent Me From Agreeing with you).

  • by El (94934) on Saturday January 10, 2004 @07:58PM (#7941399)
    ...how exactly does one determine whether or not a mouse has dementia? "Let's see now, where was that cheese again..."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone else find it really sad that there are only 14 comments regarding this breakthrough whereas any tidbit about the latest slight modification to the Linux kernel gets hundreds of comments?
  • See here [amazon.com] for a book that has hard data on the cause of Alzheimers and many other diseases. It's not popular with the mega food companies, as it puts a lot of the blame in their laps. But it makes a lot of sense.

    It has to do with excitotoxins, such as glutamates, aspartates, and others when present in abnormal, imbalanced quantities.
  • can't be that new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shaitand (626655) on Sunday January 11, 2004 @12:24AM (#7942727) Journal
    a google search for this enzyme and for amyloid beta
    yields slews of not so new results relating it to the disease.

    According to some of what I read green tea is known to inhibit the enzyme.
    • Shaitand Could you perhaps send me more info about the positive effects of green tea that seems to inhibit the enzyme (and also amyloid beta?) mentioned in the artuicle about Alzheimers disease? thanks Henny
  • by MrBlic (27241) * on Sunday January 11, 2004 @12:38AM (#7942774) Homepage
    Check out this alzheimers in a human brain microscopic slide. Click on the purple crosshair buttons on the left to be directed to some plaques and tangles: Click here [neuroinformatica.com]
  • by dtfinch (661405) *
    Slashdotted already.

    What was this story about again?
  • So... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There will be an end to all dupes?
  • by nimblebrain (683478) on Sunday January 11, 2004 @04:46PM (#7946903) Homepage Journal

    I read a few days ago an article about figuring out how to bust apart the prions in BSE (mad cow) - but cannot for the life of me find the link. There's a similar disease in sheep, scrapie, which they've had some success using monoclonal antibodies [usnews.com] to reduce the damage from.

    That would be a next step in Alzheimer research - if we can bust apart the amyloid beta plaques in sufferers, we might not be able to get back all old function, but it would very likely help current sufferers. One we have the ounce of prevention - it would be nice to have the pound of cure, too.

  • I figured it out a couple years ago. But I forget what it was.
  • There is a neuropathologist (whose name I forgot) that studies brains of deceased nuns over two decades now. He has a dela deal with nuns in several abbeys - he could test their cognitive performance in memory tests before they die and access their medical files. And slice their donated brains when they die. (The monastic orders are wonderful for having very commited patients and very controled enviroment for a human study. And wealth of long-time medical histories is available).

    The post-mortem findings
    • That study really highlights the fact that there isn't really an 'Alzheimer's disease' as most people think of it. It's really a constellation of closely related degenerative diseases that happen to have similar gross pathologies. Just like cancer is a wide array of different causes and disease pathways, Alzheimer is most likely going to require various targeted treatment to attack the particular root cause of the dementia.

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