July 13, 2012- Some drugs being developed target what medical experts believe to be the base cause of Alzheimer’s disease, the buildup of amyloid protein in the brain. Recently published research supports these theories.
A new genetic discovery might provide even more clues of how to protect against the deadly disease. Researchers, for the first time, have discovered a genetic mutation that might protect individuals against the brain disease that affects nearly 30 million people across the globe.
Close to 5.4 million people suffer from the disease in the U.S., but without a breakthrough medically, researchers believe by 2050, the number of sufferers of Alzheimer’s will increase to over 16 million in the U.S. alone.
In the new study scientists from Iceland look at APP or the amyloid-beta precursor protein. This was first discovered over 25 years ago in those afflicted with rare inherited types of Alzheimer’s that develops in middle age.
Researchers say APP breaks down to form amyloid-beta, which can be seen in the brain as plaque buildup that is a telltale marker of the disease. Scientists have for some time debated whether the buildup of plaque contributed to causing Alzheimer’s or is caused by the disease.
The genome sequences were studied in close to 1,800 Icelander senior citizens in the study. A discovery was made of a genetic mutation in one gene that produces APP. The genetic mutation slowed the formation of plaque by 40% in the brain.