Alzheimer’s disease affects people and their families on profound levels, destroying minds and shattering lives. While treatments have emerged to slow its progression, none have been able to prevent or halt it completely. That may soon change. Exciting new research may be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for. Scientists were able to fix a gene that has been shown to be responsible for Alzheimer’s in a human cell.
The Genetic Factor
A recent look at the role certain proteins play in Alzheimer’s disease progression has given researchers new hope in treating it. Researchers at Gladstone Institute in California found that proteins caused by the presence of a specific gene led to damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
The apoE4 gene, which causes cells to produce apoE4 protein, could be the key to treating disease progression. The aopE4 protein is malformed, and when it is broken down, it results in protein fragments that damage brain cells. Those with one copy of the gene, which can be inherited from either parent, have over twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Those who inherit copies from both parents are twelve times more likely to develop it.
New Possible Avenues
Past research on Alzheimer disease treatments have hit numerous roadblocks. One factor has been the choice to experiment on mice, since their brains appear to react more benignly to the presence of aopE4. This most recent study was different.
Researchers created neurons from the stem cells of Alzheimer’s patients who had two copies of the aopE4 gene, which were then used for testing. Not only did they find that the presence of aopE4 protein in any amount could damage human neurons, but administration of a “structural corrector” to the cells halted that damage completely.
Because the tests were conducted on human cells, they’ve opened exciting avenues for new treatment research. There is new hope that we could be one step closer to a real cure or effective treatment. Of course, studies must still be conducted on actual living, functioning cells, so more roadblocks could be ahead. All the same, future studies expanding upon this one could be promising. Senior scientists have even predicted that within the next few decades Alzheimer’s sufferers might very well be able to live with the disease without its horrible symptoms.