Scientists from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) associated with the University of Antwerp have achieved a new breakthrough in their research on the origins of Alzheimer’s disease. Their alternative approach opens up new prospects for developing a treatment which can slow the disease’s progress. The researchers have shown that ´the plaques´ which form in the brain of patients are linked to damage to nearby blood vessels. Leakage appears to occur between the blood vessels and the brain, as a result of which the plaques develop and the disease manifests itself. This research is published today in the ‘American Journal of Pathology’.
Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative disease that gradually and progressively destroys brain cells, affects between 50% and 70% of all dementia patients and is therefore the major form of dementia. About 100,000 people suffer from this disease in Belgium. The damage caused to memory and mental functioning makes it one of today’s most frightening syndromes. In particular, the first realization of the loss of any sense of reality is extremely difficult to accept. So, science continues to search feverishly for ways to treat the disease.
The formation of plaques plays a key role
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by an increasing deposit of the amyloid-ß protein in the brain. The accumulation of this protein results in ´plaques´; deposits which settle in the brain cells responsible for memory and observation. How the plaques develop is the key in the search for a treatment. Samir Kumar-Singh and his colleagues on a team headed by Christine Van Broeckhoven have unraveled how certain plaques are formed. In various mouse models, they demonstrate that the plaques attach primarily onto the blood vessels. The vessels show clear structural damage, so that the strictly-controlled separation between blood vessels and brain is compromised and leakage occurs.
A new model as a first step towards a treatment?
Under normal circumstances, the blood vessels transport the excess amyloid-ß protein away from the brain. However, the protein has a harmful effect on blood vessel walls. This effect is perhaps strengthened as a result of ageing, which causes the protein to be removed less efficiently. The blood vessel loses strength and in its immediate vicinity the accumulation of the amyloid-ß protein increases and plaques develop. Finally, the damage to the blood vessel is so great that it is no longer functional and other blood vessels take over its tasks.
The results of the research of Samir Kumar-Singh opens up alternatives for developing new treatments. For example, a treatment which promotes the removal of the amyloid-ß protein from the brain can significantly impede the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A new approach which might have far-reaching consequences. Additional research should make it possible to verify this in greater detail.
Ann Van Gysel | alfa
Visualizing gene expression with MRI
23.12.2016 | California Institute of Technology
Illuminating cancer: Researchers invent a pH threshold sensor to improve cancer surgery
21.12.2016 | UT Southwestern Medical Center
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences