WeAlzheimer's Disease Alzheimer's Disease Introduction We did our project on Alzheimer's Disease. This is a degenerative brain disorder that is found in older adults. This disease is characterized by the destruction of nerve cells and neural connections in the cerebral cortex of the brain and by a large loss of brain mass. When an autopsy is performed on an Alzheimer's patient, it is the neurotic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles that finally diagnose the patient. Neurotic plaques, also called senile, dendritic, or amyloid plaques, are made up of deteriorating neural material surrounding deposits of a sticky protein, amyloid protein. Neurofibrillary tangles are twisted Tau protein fibres found in the neurons.
Another major contributor is the lack of acetylcholine neurons, which play an important part in our memory. A mutation in our genes can also cause Alzheimer's. If a gene on chromosome 21, the chromosome for the production of amyloid protein, mutated, it would cause the increase the production of the protein causing neurotic plaques. There are also other possible mutations on chromosomes 1, 14, 19, and 21 that can cause the disease.
Alzheimer's Disease, as of yet, doesn't have a cure. Treatment There is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease. So far there are only a few drugs that can slow down the effects of it. Tacrine is the main drug for the treatment of the disease. This drug is an Acetylcholine booster, helps the memory neurons.
Unfortunately this drug only helps 20 to 40% of the people who use it. The patients stay on this drug for 6-week intervals. Tacrine has a few side effects. It includes nausea, vomiting, and the most serious, possible liver damage. Liver deteriorating can start after 6 weeks on the drug, so patients periodically have to get blood tests done. Other Acetylcholine boosters still in development are Xanomeline, Milameline, SB 202026, AF 102 B, and ABT 418.
Another drug is Donepezil, which is a cholinesterase inhibitor. This drug effects the memory neurons in the brain, preventing them from breaking down. This drug's response rate is also very low, though it's exact numbers are unknown. Some other cholinesterase inhibitors in testing are Physostigmine SR, ENA 713, NXX 066, and Galanthamine. Future Research There are two new breakthroughs in the research of Alzheimer's that might help find a cure.
The first is a vaccine that was injected into a special breed of mice. These mice were bred to have similar plaque build ups in the brain. This vaccine reduced the plaque up to 60%. The drug also stimulated the immune system to produce antibodies that get rid of the amyloid fragments that cause neurotic plaques.
Along with this, amyloid protein build up still occurs, which is still puzzling researchers. The second breakthrough is a new protein that has been linked to Alzheimer's Disease. This protein, nicastrin, has always been thought to work with presenilin to form pepsi ds. Now it's suspected of helping with the formation of plaques. The next thing researcher's have to do is find the protein's 3 D shape. This will help with the development of a drug that will bind to the nicastrin, and hopefully disrupt the formation of the plaques, preventing symptoms of Alzheimer's.
If these two potential treatments are researched more, there is hope for a cure in the years to come.