Researchers Find Key to Stopping Alzheimer's Disease Development

Researchers at five universities took a major step forward in the battle against Alzheimer's disease by discovering a molecule that could block its development. The study, conducted jointly by a team from the University of Cambridge, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Lund University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Tallinn University, found that a molecule called Brochos inhibits the events in the brain that lead to the development of the devastating disease. It sticks to the malfunctioning protein threads that are an Alzheimer's hallmark, keeping them from getting in contact with other proteins and forming toxic clusters that pave the way for dementia.

Stopping a Devastating Disease

Dr. Samuel Cohen of St John’s College, Cambridge, and a lead author of the report, said: "A great deal of work in this field has gone into understanding which microscopic processes are important in the development of Alzheimer’s disease; now we are now starting to reap the rewards of this hard work. Our study shows, for the first time, one of these critical processes being specifically inhibited, and reveals that by doing so we can prevent the toxic effects of protein aggregation that are associated with this terrible condition."

Alzheimer's disease affects over 5 million people in the United States, according to the Alzheimer's Association, and there is currently no reliable way to prevent or treat it. Current medical management usually focuses on treating the symptoms. Its symptoms include depression, delusions, sleep pattern disturbance, agitation, forgetfulness, losing self awareness, inability to perform simple daily tasks, loss of judgement, and an inability to recognize danger. People with Alzheimer's disease may strike out and become violent or withdraw from social contact.

People with Alzheimer's disease typically died earlier than normal, although survival rates run between three and 20 years. The Alzheimer's Association says 500,000 affected people die each year, and one in three senior citizens has Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia at the time of death.

Currently, Alzheimer's disease is the most expensive condition in the United States, with a $214 billion cost to society in Medicare payments and other expenses. If the molecule discovery leads to an actual treatment, it will alleviate the suffering of billions of people and their caregivers and slash medical costs.