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Transcript
Alzheimer’s disease is known as a type of dementia discovered and named after Dr. Alois
Alzheimer. It is a disease that has to do with loss of memory and interference with the brain in
which the person begins to have trouble with daily activities such as speaking and remembering.
It is a disease that continues to worsen over time and typically is seen in people as they get older.
The cause of Alzheimer’s disease has not been completely determined but scientists have found
that it is connected to genetics, the brain and the neurons associated with the brain. When nerves
are destroyed or their functionality is disrupted, they interfere with the functions of a brain’s
operating system such as retention of memory which is one of the most common signs of
Alzheimer’s where lack of the ability to retain information that was just recently learned.
Two noticeable characteristics (symptoms) of those who have Alzheimer’s disease are
that there are many amyloid plaque buildups in the brain and neurofibrillary tangles.
Neurofibrillary is when a protein called Tau is found to be ‘defective’ at its normal job of
maintaining the normal structure of nerves. The protein Tau is in charge of microtubules and so
when it does not function correctly, it results in neurofibrillary. The ‘defective’ Tau protein is a
result of protein misfolding where the protein’s normal folded conformation is not correctly
folded due to a possible mutation in the RNA and so the translation becomes different. Amyloid
plaque are buildups of insoluble proteins, beta-amyloid, that fill the spaces in between the
neurons in the brain. Amyloid plaques may be likely due to genetic mutations as well.
These two symptoms are noted by scientists to possibly damage parts of the brain by
killing off neurons as well as damaging the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a part of the
limbic system. Not only that, but it is the main part of the brain that allows for the formation of
memories and storage of them. An example of the function of the hippocampus is if a person
were to already have memories of a person before the disease became severe, they would still
retain those memories, however when it comes to making new ones, they would have difficulty
doing so or at all. The hippocampus also plays a part in a person’s emotional responses and their
senses. In Alzheimer’s disease though, if it’s at a severe enough stage, the person not only cannot
form new memories but also the possibility of the person losing their past memories can happen.
Another effect of Alzheimer’s is that the person loses the ability to have an adequate and normal
conversation and becomes less likely to engage in social aspects they normally could take part
of.
The disease itself is a slow process where over time, the signs and symptoms become
more severe. This is why it is most commonly seen in person is of older age. Although there are
cases of younger people having the disease, it is less common. A cure for the disease has yet to
be found and treatment is currently limited. Although there is no cure, the main forms of
treatments are attempts at delaying the progress of the disease even further than its already fairly
slow rate. These attempts include options such as cognitive training, medication or exercise to
maintain good health. Medications typically target behavioral changes and chemicals targeting
cholinesterase.
In recent studies, several new gene variants were found to possibly be associated with
Alzheimer’s. Scientists have discovered that the disease may be linked to the immune system
through these new gene variants. More gene variants were also discovered but have not been
definitively determined whether they are directly linked to the disease.
References/Websites:
1. Hippocampus. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://biology.about.com/od/anatomy/p/hippocampus.htm
2. About Alzheimer's Disease: Alzheimer's Basics | National Institute on Aging. (n.d.).
Retrieved from http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/alzheimersbasics?utm_source=ad_fact_sheet&utm_medium=web&utm_content=basics&utm_camp
aign=top_promo_box
3. 11 new gene variants linked to Alzheimer's disease - CBS News. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57609581/11-new-gene-variants-linked-toalzheimers-disease/