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Breakthrough Research in Alzheimer's

Lab Mouse

A breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research was made in Tel Aviv University.

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain’s functions. It starts slowly, usually in older people, and progresses to major losses of functionality. These include short-term memory loss, disorientation and the loss of bodily functions. The cause of Alzheimer’s is not fully understood yet, but a few researchers in Tel Aviv have found a common Gene in as many as 60% of patients. APOE is its name and it has a few forms: the good type APOE3 and the bad APOE4.

Professor Daniel M. Michaelson led this research alongside Anat Boehm-Cagan and with the collaboration of Artery Ltd. His lab managed to study the effect of the APOE gene in mice. The team converted the bad APOE4 into the good type and watched the mice, for the effect it had on their cognitive abilities and memory. These mice were submerged in a shallow pool and showed signs of disorientation before the treatment. After it, they were able to locate a floating island and stay above the water.

Combination of two brain diagrams in one for comparison. In the left normal brain, in the right brain of a person with Alzheimer's disease

Professor Michaelson said in a statement, “APOE4 is a very important and understudied target. It is expressed in more than 60 percent of Alzheimer’s patients. Anti-APOE4 treatments are thus expected to have a major impact on the patient population. Taken from jewishbusinessnews.com

This new research hints at a possibility of reversing the effects Alzheimer’s has and could be a cure for a large population of inflicted people. The problem with Alzheimer’s is its undefined cause.

“Is there really a magic bullet? One treatment that covers all aspects of Alzheimer’s? Not likely,” said Prof. Michaelson. “Therefore there is a need to define specific subpopulations and to develop treatments targeted at genetic risk factors of the disease, like APOE4, which affects more than half of the Alzheimer’s population.”

This is a big step in the right direction, and with more breakthroughs, this could be one disease entirely forgotten.

This research was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.


-Omer Shenhar

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