Untangling the Mysteries of Alzheimer's Disease

Jun 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Lary Walker, associate professor of neuroscience, discusses the most common cause of dementia -- Alzheimer's disease -- and a promising diagnostic tool to detect it. Walker also explains what happens to the brain when someone gets this disease, and why Alzheimer's is exclusive to humans.

When our bodies make a protein, the protein tends to fold into a functional form. But when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, some proteins misfold, becoming sticky and then combining with one another. In their collective form, the proteins can then form plaques or tangles, the two types of associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

And for some unknown reason, people who have plaques usually go on to form tangles. But people who have tangles don’t always go on to form plaques. No one is sure why. But that’s what researcher Lary Walker wants to find out. Walker is an associate professor at Yerkes National Primate Research Center.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

What complicates matters further is that patients with Alzheimer’s may have co-existing neurodegenerative diseases or conditions, such as vascular disease in the brain. “There’s pretty good evidence that vascular disorders will exacerbate ,” says Walker. “So, someone who has both the lesions of Alzheimer’s disease and problems with blood vessels in the is more likely to become demented early and faster than someone who just has the lesions of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Explore further: Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Alzheimer's prevention role discovered for prions

Jul 03, 2007

A role for prion proteins, the much debated agents of mad cow disease and vCJD, has been identified. It appears that the normal prions produced by the body help to prevent the plaques that build up in the brain to cause Alzheimer’s ...

Depression increases risk of Alzheimer's disease

Apr 07, 2008

People who have had depression are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who have never had depression, according to a study published in the April 8, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

Scientists find new cause of Alzheimer's

Apr 19, 2006

Belgium researchers say they are the first to demonstrate the quantity of amyloid protein in brain cells is a major factor of Alzheimer's disease.

Recommended for you

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

3 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

World 'losing battle' to contain Ebola: MSF (Update)

4 hours ago

International medical agency Medecins sans Frontieres said Tuesday the world was "losing the battle" to contain Ebola as the United Nations warned of severe food shortages in the hardest-hit countries.

Mutating Ebola viruses not as scary as evolving ones

4 hours ago

My social media accounts today are cluttered with stories about "mutating" Ebola viruses. The usually excellent ScienceAlert, for example, rather breathlessly informs us "The Ebola virus is mutating faster in humans than in animal hosts ...

War between bacteria and phages benefits humans

5 hours ago

In the battle between our immune systems and cholera bacteria, humans may have an unknown ally in bacteria-killing viruses known as phages. In a new study, researchers from Tufts University, Massachusetts ...

Ebola kills 31 people in DR Congo: WHO

7 hours ago

An outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 31 people and the epidemic remains contained in a remote northwestern region, UN the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

User comments : 0