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Why Alzheimer’s should be treated separately

Maria Rosa, 70, a patient with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and former business administrator, poses for a photograph inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico city, April 19, 2012. Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that robs people of memory, reasoning and the ability to communicate. About 24 million people worldwide have the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In Mexico, 600,000 Mexicans out of 9 million adults over the age 60 suffer from Alzheimer's, according to the Institute of Geriatrics (INGER). Picture taken April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)
Maria Rosa, 70, a patient with Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia, and former business administrator, poses for a photograph inside the Alzheimer Foundation in Mexico city, April 19, 2012. Alzheimer's is a progressive, degenerative disease that robs people of memory, reasoning and the ability to communicate. About 24 million people worldwide have the disease, according to the World Health Organization. In Mexico, 600,000 Mexicans out of 9 million adults over the age 60 suffer from Alzheimer's, according to the Institute of Geriatrics (INGER). Picture taken April 19, 2012. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido (MEXICO - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)

Washington: A team of scientists has suggested that Alzheimer’s is probably a collection of diseases that should be treated separately.

Deciphering the mechanism that underlies the development of Alzheimer’s disease in certain families but not in others, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine have proposed that the malady is actually a collection of diseases that probably should be treated with a variety of different approaches.

Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and debilitating conditions that result in degeneration or death of cells in the nervous system. Conditions such as prion disorders (the most famous of which is “Mad Cow Disease”), Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease share two key features: they emerge as a result of aberrant protein folding and aggregation and their onset is late in life. These maladies emerge either sporadically or as familial, mutation-linked illnesses (certain prion disease can be also infectious).

Since neurodegenerative disorders stem from aberrant protein folding, researchers postulated that an aging-associated decline in the activity of proteins that assist other proteins to fold properly, may be one mechanism that exposes the elderly to neurodegeneration.

According to Prof. Ehud Cohen: “This study provides important new insights: first, it shows that the development of distinct neurodegenerative disorders stems from a similar mechanism. More importantly, it indicates that Alzheimer’s disease can emanate from more than one mechanism, suggesting that it is actually a collection of diseases that should be classified.”

The new insights derived from this study may reinforce the efforts to develop novel therapies to the different subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease, providing new hope to those who suffer from this incurable disorder and to their families.

The study appears in EMBO Journal. (ANI)