According to Professor Matti Haltia, a new form of the hereditary disorder Alzheimer’s disease, which paralyses the lower extremities of its victims, has been discovered in Finland. This disease has since also been discovered in many other countries. The disorder is caused by a new type of genetic defect, which leads to the accumulation of cotton-wool plaque in the cerebral cortex. These cotton-wool plaques lack the traditional Alzheimer plaques, i.e. an amyloid core. This discovery is altering the understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease is formed. Haltia’s research was part of the Academy of Finland’s Research Programme on Ageing. Genetic research was conducted in co-operation with American professor John Hardy, who was the first to discover the genetic defect that causes Alzheimer’s disease in 1991.
Professor Haltia and his research group have shown that Alzheimer’s disease is even more common among people over 85 years of age than previously thought. Furthermore, the research found that a certain form of the LPL protein protects against cerebral infarction. This represents the first known common hereditary factor related to cerebral infarction.
Haltia’s group research has also proven that the ’Pohjoinen’ epilepsy discovered in the Kainuu region of Finland is a new NCL disease. The genetic defect that causes the disease was identified by the research group headed by Professor Anna-Elina Lehesjoki. Even in Finland, NCL diseases are some of the most common hereditary brain disorders among children. They lead to the accumulation of lipofuscin (ageing pigment) type material in nerve cells and the destruction of nerve cells. In this sense they may serve as models of ageing.
Anita Westerback | alfa
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