Alzheimer's Precursors

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A study says deterioration of the brain in Alzheimer's patients occurs long before any symptoms show. The study was conducted on large extended family of 5,000 individuals in Colombia with a genetic form of the disease. Brain changes are noticeable 20 years prior to and evidence of cognitive impairment. There is evidence of the memory-encoding areas of the brain having to work harder, and low levels of amyloid in the spinal cord-- a hallmark of Alzheimer's.
Researchers received a grant to test a drug on family members who had not yet noticed any symptoms. Spinal taps, M.R.I.s, and brain imaging were used to measure the effects of the drug upon the participants. There were two conclusions. One possibility is that brain areas are already impaired. Another possibility, experts said, is that these brain differences may go back to the young developing brain.
I understand that Alzheimer's is a genetic disease, and studying individuals who are related could produce insightful outcomes, however limiting a study to one family could exclude many factors. The family could have an unusual form of the disease or lack genes that most families contain (I'm not very well educated in medicine, but I'm sure this study could possibly produce some irrational conclusions.) Conducting the study on a larger, random sample of people could be more productive. It would also be helpful to have a control group.

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This page contains a single entry by wasse040 published on November 22, 2012 6:41 PM.

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