Monday, October 18, 2021

A ‘groundbreaking’ study finds a probable cause

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Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition affecting parts of the brain associated with memory, thought, and language. Its symptoms range from mild memory loss to the inability to hold conversations to environmental disorientation and mood changes. Previous research has suggested that various factors — such as age, family history, diet, and environmental factors — combine to influence a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, scientists in Australia have recently discovered an additional factor that may be responsible for the development of this neurodegenerative condition. “ in dietary behaviors and certain medications could potentially reduce blood concentration of these toxic fat-protein complexes, reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s or down the disease progression,” he concluded.

“This study,” he added, “shows that exaggerated abundance in blood of potentially toxic fat-protein complexes can damage microscopic brain blood vessels called capillaries and, thereafter, leak into the brain, causing inflammation and brain cell death.” The findings appear in the journal PLOS Biology.

He said, “To find new opportunities to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, we need to understand what actually causes the disease, and presently that is not established.” Lead study author Dr. John Mamo, Ph.D. — distinguished professor and director of the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute at Curtin University in Perth, Australia — explained to Medical News Today the conclusion from the new research.

In their recent study, the researchers used two mouse models. They genetically modified animals in the test group so that their livers would produce human amyloid-beta. This is the protein part of the toxic protein-fat complex that the scientists thought may cause Alzheimer’s disease. The control group had no genetic modifications. Dr. Mamo and his team are working to unearth previously undiscovered causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Their hope is that this may suggest new avenues of investigation and novel potential treatments for the condition.

As well as this test of cognitive function, the scientists harvested various tissue samples from the mice, including samples from the liver, brain, lung, and duodenum. This was to study the impact of the human amyloid-beta on the structure and function of these tissues. When examining the tissue samples or conducting the cognitive tests, the scientists did not know if the mouse in question was from the test or control group. This information was only revealed once they were ready to start the statistical analysis of the results. This process is called blinding, and it is a research practice that helps reduce the risk of unconscious bias. Over time, the researchers subjected both groups to a fear-motivated memory test for cognitive functions and noted the corresponding results.

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