What causes Alzheimer’s disease? This question doesn’t have a simple answer but is one that researchers from Duke University, USA are one step closer to understanding. They have identified a mechanism behind neuronal dysfunction, which they believe could play a major role in Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.
A recent Nature article highlighted the need for special guidelines to be developed to assist in the diagnosis of brain disorders in retired American footballers.
Mounting evidence indicates that repeated head injuries may be linked to degenerative brain disorder later in life. In light of this, neuroscientists recently met at Boston University to examine the characteristics of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a form of dementia first diagnosed in professional boxers and commonly seen among other professional contact sports players.
New research out of Mexico has added another potential diagnostic test to the mix, suggesting a simple skin test can detect abnormal levels of Tau protein before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease appear.
Researchers in America have proposed a new category of brain disease, called ‘Primary Age-Related Tauopathy’ (or PART), to describe people who have dementia and display many of the characteristic symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, but who do not have significant levels of amyloid beta plaque in their brains.
Professor Peter Nelson from the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging was lead researcher on a study published recently in the Journal Acta Neuropatholigica. He explained the importance of these new findings, saying:
Progress towards a simple blood test that could diagnose Alzheimer’s disease 10-20 years before symptoms occur has been made, with the results of a new study by Australian researchers from the University of Melbourne.
This research, published today in the Journal Molecular Psychiatry, was partially supported by an 2013 Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation project grant awarded to Dr Lesley Cheng (pictured).