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Preventive Methods for Alzheimers

  • 21 May 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) have found methods for preventing the accumulation of neurotoxic molecules in the brain, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

Key Points

  • The cause of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of amyloid-beta peptides (neurotoxic molecules) in the brain.
    • Peptide is similar to the plaque that blocks arteries and affects blood supply, leading to cardiovascular diseases.
    • Peptide aggregation/accumulation means their formation of one over the other, deforming the cortex of the brain which leads to Alzheimer’s.
    • The peptide molecules need to have a certain structure to aggregate.
  • Preventive Methods:
    • Use of Trojan Peptides:
      • In this approach, the purpose is to design a deceitful peptide with “negative syncretical points” for checking the plaque formation.
      • Trojan peptide (deceitful peptide) has the same structure as the peptide in the body but its function is contrary to aggregation.
      • It adopts a similar approach of deceit to impede the aggregation of the amyloid peptide, and reduce poisoning of nerve cells that leads to memory loss.
      • The degeneration of poisoned cells can be delayed by intravenous injection of the trojan peptide, which in turn, can delay the onset of disease by 10 years.
    • Application of a low-voltage electric field:
      • The electric field can prevent amyloid plaques from aggregating.
      • The use of an external electric or magnetic field modulates peptide molecules to pull back the possibility of Alzheimer’s to a certain extent.
  • Earlier Discoveries:
    • In July 2019, an Indian-American scientist at the University of New Mexico developed an early version vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease.
      • Vaccine intervention could rescue memory impairments and prevent neurons from dying by reducing tau tangles.
    • In November 2019, China approved the world’s first multi-targeting and carbohydrate-based drug GV-971 for Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s Disease

  • It is a neurological disorder which causes brain cells to degenerate and die. This leads to loss of memory, problems with words in speaking or writing, poor judgment, changes in mood and personality, confusion with time or place, etc.
    • At the first stage, these symptoms are mild but they become more severe with time.
  • Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults.
    • Dementia is a group of brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills.
  • Alzheimer’s is caused by the build-up of proteins known as tau tangles or plaques within the brain and is also known as the third type of diabetes.
    • Tau is a protein that when it occurs in tangled formations in the brain of Alzheimer patients, disrupts the ability of neurons to communicate with one another in the brain.
  • Alzheimer’s is an incurable disease, as the death of brain cells cannot be reversed.
  • Women have a higher risk of having Alzheimer’s disease than men.

Way Forward

  • Around 100 potential drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease failed between 1998 and 2011 and now these developments are a big step in the direction.
  • The cure is important for India because it stands at the third position after China and the USA in the number of Alzheimer’s patients. Along with cure, India also needs to clearly define public health strategy with a significant focus on research into degenerative diseases and investment in the training of healthcare personnel.

Source: TH

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