July 14, 2005

A Discovery in the Fight Against Alzheimers & Dementia

The Washington Post is reporting that a new study may have identified a protein linked to memory loss:

Some recovery of memory may be possible in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, suggests a provocative new study in mice that could help researchers open a two-pronged attack against the mind-robbing illness.
The research shows a mutant protein named tau is poisoning brain cells, and that blocking its production may allow some of those sick neurons to recover. It worked in demented mice who, to the scientists' surprise, fairly rapidly regained memory.
The work is years away from being useful in people. There are no drugs yet to block tau, and most of the recent search for Alzheimer's treatments has focused instead on another protein, called beta-amyloid.


It's important research because it bolsters the notion of targeting those sick neurons in hopes of one day reversing at least some of dementia's damage, said William Thies, scientific director of the Alzheimer's Association. Today's Alzheimer's drugs only treat symptoms.
"If you can actually rescue some of these sick cells, that really brings the possibility of return of some function, which would be of tremendous value," he said.

Read the whole thing.