Gene may cause damage 50 years before Alzheimer’s disease


May 16, 2011

New research conducted by Paul Thompson, a professor from the University of California Los Angeles, recently showed that some of the damage incurred by Alzheimer’s disease may be inflicted around 50 years before the noticeable effects of the disease emerge.

Thompson and colleagues discovered that the gene, CLU-C, starts to impair the growth of myelin, which is instrumental in protecting the neuron’s axons in the brain. Consequently, the region is much more vulnerable to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the future.

Having a way to better discover if a patient is at risk for Alzheimer’s could also help planning for the future. Experts recommend that installing a medical alarm system in a home could offer a safeguard for older adults who may be suffering from neurological disorders. This device enables users to instantly send a medical alert if they require assistance.

“Alzheimer’s has traditionally been considered a disease marked by neuronal cell loss and widespread gray-matter atrophy,” Thompson said in a statement. “But degeneration of myelin in white-matter fiber pathways is more and more being considered a key disease component and another possible pathway to the disease, and this discovery supports that.”

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