Alzheimer’s can Spread like an Infection


  • A breakthrough study conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center found that Alzheimer’s spreads from one part of the brain to another, characteristic of an infection. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and an estimate of 5.4 million people suffer from the disease. This new discovery could help in the development of treatments to slow this disease’s growth, and thus delay the severity of dementia.


  • The continuous buildup of plaques and fibrous tangles (composed of abnormal tau) in brain cells called neurons is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Study results showed that the abnormal tau protein in transgenic mice navigates along brain circuits from neuron to neuron. Like cancer treatment, perhaps early detection and intervention could slow the proliferation of Alzheimer’s. Other related studies have shown that the disease begins at the entorhinal cortex, an area highly affecting memory, and then spreads to other areas critical for higher brain functions.


  • Currently, there is no cure, prevention, or ways to slow Alzheimer’s debilitating effects; however, this new study can aid in the development of treatments that could reduce the worsening of dementia symptoms.




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