Alzheimer's Disease Essay

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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and this terminal, progressive brain disorder has no known cause or cure. Its greatest known risk factor is increasing age which is why is it is infamous for developing in the elderly, typically in ages 65 or over, however for the 5%(1) that develop Alzheimer’s in their 40s or 50s it is known as early Alzheimer’s. Because Alzheimer’s worsens over time, those with it tend to struggle with completing daily tasks especially elderly people. Given that there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, the treatments available slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. It is not known what causes Alzheimer's, however, those with Alzheimer's have been found to have abnormal amounts of protein (amyloid plaques) and fibres.(The amyloid plaques and fibres are found in regions of the brain where problem solving and thinking take place e.g The cerebrum.) Due to the unusual amounts of amyloid plaques and fibres, it reduces the effectiveness of healthy neurons and eventually, destroying them. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States(1). Alzheimer's has no cure or any way of preventing it from occurring. Life expectancy continues to grow due to improvements in medicine, and so Alzheimer's Disease will continue to be a problem in the elderly. Looking at figure 1(3), it shows that from the year 2000, cases of Alzheimer's disease are estimated to double by the year 2040, which is most likely due to the fact that medicine will continue to improve. Despite not knowing the causes of Alzheimer’s, there have been studies(2 and 7) showing that high cholesterol or high blood pressure can increase the risk... ... middle of paper ... ...d up in lysosomes of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). Once broken, in an improper process, into toxic peptides which are associated with Alzheimer's Disease, researchers suggest they are perhaps a reason for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Within weeks of using gene therapy to increase the activity of the NEU1 enzyme, it was found that plaque began to decline. The regions in which the researchers saw a decline in plaque was in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is where memory and learning take place in mice. To insert the gene scientists used a modified cold virus as the vector to implant the NEU1 gene into the brain cells of the mouse. This suggested that the lack of this gene meant that it could lead to Alzheimer’s disease, however the gene could also be used to slow the worsening of Alzheimer’s disease or possibly even “ reverse “ the disease process.

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