Tuesday 11 April 2023

New Gene Discovery Predicted To Yield Life-Changing Alzheimer’s Treatment

 A group of scientists at Cardiff University have revealed stunning information that could lead to life-changing treatment for sufferers of the most common form of Alzheimer’s disease in the next 15 years.

The research by the scientific team started in 2009, and in 2022 they announced they had found three genes that led to the disease. But now they have announced discovering 92 more genes.

“By 2040 I think we’ll be in the position to offer a range of treatments and we might not know exactly why, but one of them will be able to act on the huge range of causes,” Professor Julie Williams, the Cardiff Dementia Centre’s director, stated.

“Once you know where to start looking then you can study the effects which genes have on specific brain activity,” Williams said. “Things are speeding up and improving all the time. I’ve learnt more in the last seven years than I did in the previous 20. Tests which cost millions in the 90s can be carried out for around £30.”

“For example,” she told the BBC, “we now know that defective genes changing the way immune cells called microglia work. These are the bin lorries of the brain clearing away what they see as rubbish. They may be less efficient at clearing genuine rubbish and mistakenly kill off healthy brain cells, including synapses. Of course synapses are the connections between neurons, so if they get eliminated when they shouldn’t then you lose connections, you lose thought, you lose memories.”

Williams acknowledged that various therapies would be needed to combat the constellation of problems the disease represents.

Last year, Professor Tara Spires-Jones of the University of Edinburgh said that within ten years, a drug may be available that would limit the suffering of Alzheimer’s patients to initial mild confusion, asserting, “I am wary of using the word cure, which is a very strong word, but I think we will have a disease-modifying drug within 10 years. That is a drug which can stop Alzheimer’s disease in its tracks, or even – although this is less likely – reverse it once it has started.”

“I know all these decades of research can seem disheartening, when there is still no drug for Alzheimer’s, but game-changing, miracle drugs have been found for other brain diseases, and one is coming for this one,” she added.

Last July, a new computer program was announced that could enable researchers to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease much earlier so that it can be treated much earlier after its onset.

Boston University researchers, using audio recordings from neuropsychological interviews with 1,000 people, used speech recognition tools that enabled computers to transcribe the recordings and then translate them into numbers. The chances of cognitive impairment were then determined by those numbers, demographic data, and diagnoses from neurologists and neuropsychologists.

“This approach brings us one step closer to early intervention,” said Ioannis Paschalidis, a co-author on the paper. “It can form the basis of an online tool that could reach everyone and could increase the number of people who get screened early.”

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