The More We Know, The More We Don’t

September 13, 2013

Recent research on the structure of the protein plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease is shedding new light on how the disease manifests itself in different individuals.  It will help scientists understand why the disease progresses more rapidly in some people than in others.

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health suggests that differences in the disease may be due to structural variations in the molecules of the amyloid fibrils.  If so, it opens the door to new imaging techniques that can improve the reliability of diagnoses.

The researchers compared the structures of beta-amyloid extracted from the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients.  With nuclear magnetic resonance and electron microscopy, they identified correlations between variations in the disease and differences in molecular structure.

Researchers concluded that there are at least two different types of beta-amyloid structures in brains with Alzheimer’s.  Further, they concluded that certain structures may be more likely than others to cause the disease.

While this research is seen as a huge step forward in diagnosis, it is sobering that the big breakthrough we are all waiting for is a cure.  Until, it’s about the care, not the cure.

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