In a recent study, investigators have determined a new neurological condition that they say leads to the similar cognitive problems as Alzheimer’s disease but have a distinct brain pathology.
The study team – co-lead by Dr. Peter T. Nelson and Dr. John F. Crary call the condition primary age-related tauopathy (PART).
Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have tangles in their brain composed of a protein known as tau, along with plaques triggered by build-up of a protein known as beta-amyloid. But the team states that sufferers with PART only have tangles, not plaques.
The point that some sufferers have memory issues but only have tangles in their brains has long baffled investigators. Earlier, these kinds of sufferers have been identified as being in the very beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, research have proven that these sufferers have no irregular beta-amyloid in their brains, suggesting that they will not build plaques, which are a characteristic of Alzheimer’s.
With this in thought, Dr. Nelson, Dr. Crary and their group start to establish new clinical standards for diagnosing PART – anything they hope will result in the development of superior therapies for sufferers with different kinds of memory problems.
Not like Alzheimer’s, tangles in PART are limited to particular brain areas
In their research, presented in the journal Acta Neuoropathologica, the scientists say PART is a direct outcome of brain tangles composed of tau protein.
In Alzheimer’s, tangles usually form throughout the brain. In PART, on the other hand, tangles seem to form in sufferers’ medial temporal lobe,olfactory , brainstem and basal forebrain areas. Most of these structures are relevant to memory, the group notes, which describes why sufferers with PART experience memory issues.
As yet, the investigators say they are not able to identify how frequent PART is. But they mention that it is likely to be more serious in very elderly people, even though they do not yet know the causes driving this.
What is more, some research have proven that around 25% of sufferers with mild cognitive problems – who have gone through brain scans and have had their cerebrospinal fluid examined for biomarkers of beta-amyloid and tau – have no indications of irregular beta-amyloid, indicating they may have PART.
Till now, PART has been challenging to treat or even research due to the fact of absence of well-defined standards. Now that the scientific community has come to a opinion on what the key characteristics of PART are, this will support physicians identify various forms of memory impairment early.
These developments will have a big effect on our capability to identify and develop powerful therapies for brain problems observed in older individuals.”
In add-on, the team states that their new criteria for PART may assist to enhance the accuracy of clinical studies evaluating drugs for Alzheimer’s. They describe that in the past, PART sufferers may have negatively impacted clinical studies testing medicines that focus on amyloid-beta, as these drugs would not have been effective against tangles.