Understanding Alzheimer's; the search for a treatment
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain and is the most common and important cause of dementia. Dementia can include memory loss, and a decline in cognitive ability.
Treatment and testing for Alzheimer’s disease
Dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease is caused by specific changes in particular genes, and these changes cause a minority of Alzheimer’s disease cases. But for the majority of Alzheimer’s disease, there is no single test that can be used for diagnosis. However, exciting research is developing techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET), which allows doctors and scientists to look at tangles of protein in the brain. You can read more about this research here.
Aside from some treatments that can reduce symptoms, there is no medication that can delay age of onset or slow progression. You can find out more about research into treatments and cures here.
How are we fighting dementia?
Like other tissues, your brain is made of cells. Some of these cells are called neurons, which transmit important electrical signals. Recycling cellular machinery is important for healthy function and is carried out by a part of the cell called the lysosome. This cellular recycling process is especially important for neurons for two reasons:
- neurons do not divide like other cells and so age with the individual; and
- neurons are exceptionally large cells that require a high degree of ongoing maintenance
Alzheimer’s disease severely affects neuronal function and causes neurons to die. Dr Tim Sargeant and his team are targeting the lysosome as a potential source of Alzheimer’s disease treatments. This is because the lysosome can destroy molecules that become tangled in the brains of people who are affected by this disease. The function of the lysosome also becomes severely compromised during Alzheimer’s disease and it is our hope that boosting lysosomal function will protect healthy neuronal function.
Your gift matters
When you donate to SAHMRI, you are directly supporting researchers like Dr Sargeant as they look for new treatments for Alzheimer's disease.