By Mili Jayadeep
Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurodegenerative condition that negatively affects an individual’s memory and thinking as the condition progresses. It commonly affects people aged 60+ and is a crippling disease that makes everyday life difficult. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by insoluble aggregates called amyloid plaques and aggregates of another protein called neurofibrillary tangle, as well as cell death and inflammation that disrupt the normal processes of the brain.
Current therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease involves symptomatic treatments and behavioural therapies. Cardiff University scientists have produced a multiplex model to tackle the disease, which is outlined in the Journal Nature Neuroscience.
So far, over fifty genes combined with the effects of other genes contribute to the development of disease. The model uses this information to create a basis for the disease development: “the Multiplex Model assumes that changes to one or all of these components work together to form a disease cascade”. There are several contributory components to the disease and therefore this approach uses a novel perspective on Alzheimer’s which changes the way treatments are developed and administered for sufferers. Previously, a model known as the amyloid hypothesis, which focuses on a single feature of the disease process, which is the amyloid plaques found in the brain. As Alzheimer’s disease is a complex brain disease, this focused approach is not sufficient to develop new therapies. The new model looks at the disease from multiple different angles thus enabling new drug targets to be identified.
Bart De Strooper, director of the UKDRI, said: “We are proud of this great overview of the genetic basis of Alzheimer’s disease from one of our world-leading teams in the UK Dementia Research Institute. The huge progress in understanding the complex genetics underlying this condition will greatly help us in deciphering the early disease phases, when treatment intervention is most likely to be effective.” It is hoped that this development will lead to the introduction of new therapies, and will make the lives of people across the world suffering from Alzheimer’s.