Alzheimer’s: our research sheds light on how the disease progresses in the brain

Targeting the multiplication of aggregates in individual regions of the brain is likely to be a more promising strategy. 

(George Meisl/ The Conversation) — Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia affect more than 55 million people worldwide. But the development of effective treatments and cures is progressing slowly. To some extent, this is because we still don’t understand enough about what causes the disease and drives its progression.

Myself and my colleagues’ most recent work, published in Science Advances, presents a new approach using ideas from other areas of science to analyse data from Alzheimer’s patients. In this way, we’ve been able to build a better understanding of the processes that control the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.

By way of background, in Alzheimer’s disease and many other neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, proteins that are normally part of healthy brain cells start sticking together in microscopic clumps. These clumps of protein, called aggregates, form in patients’ brains, killing off brain cells and leading to symptoms such as memory loss. (…)