One of the more devastating illnesses modern medicine is trying to get a lock on is Alzheimer’s, and the disease is currently without a cure or even very many useful treatments.
Alzheimer’s is in many ways a mystery to science, but a new study has unlocked some pretty interesting discoveries concerning Alzheimer’s-like symptoms in mice. We know that buildups of certain plaques in the brain eventually cause the memory loss and dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but little is known about how the disease can be halted once onset occurs- but the study involving mice could provide some of these answers if initial findings bear out.
Eventually- in five to ten years- the discoveries could lead to medications to treat and possibly even reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in humans, though drugs would need to be developed and tested to implement the discoveries. Study author Johannes Graff is a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Graff believes that the study could show “that [Alzheimer's] is potentially reversible,” although he acknowledges that the research will only be useful to treat symptoms and not the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
In explaining the way memories are affected by Alzheimer’s, Graff says:
“If your memory is everything that you know written in a book, then in order to have access, you have to open the book and to turn the pages… [With Alzheimer's], this mechanism actually closes your memory book and makes the pages- the genes- inaccessible.”
The study was published in the February 29th edition of the journal Nature.