Alzheimer's disease cause, facts & treatment: breakthrough findings could lead to new treatment options, experts believe

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Nov 30, 2015 05:30 AM EST

Inside the human brain, cells communicate with each other through signals in order to help us with our cognitive function like learning and reasoning, and in creating memories. When these connections are severed, some of the most important brain functions are also impaired.

And, this is exactly what happens during the onset or early stages of a person's Alzheimer's disease wherein the brain cells are affected which, eventually, leads to a huge impact in brain functioning, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications.

"Synapses are required for all brain functions, and particularly for learning and forming memories. In Alzheimer's disease, this loss of synapses occurs very early on, when people still only have mild cognitive impairment, and long before the nerve cells themselves die," said University of New South Wales professor Vladimir Sytnyk, who also led the study.

Sytnyk and his team of researchers from the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences are confident that because of this recent breakthrough, new treatment options could be made available at hand, the Northern Californian reported.

The researchers found out that the levels of neural cell adhesion molecule 2 (NCAM2), a type of protein in the brain, is low in the region referred to as the hippocampus among those people with Alzheimer's.

These NCAM2 is responsible for connecting membranes of synapses and ensures stability in the synaptic connection between the nerve cells. The study revealed that NCAM2 were lost due to the harmful effects of plaque buildup inside the brain of people suffering from the disease.

However, as important as the impact of this study is for the on-going research on Alzheimer's disease, not everyone from the scientific community shares the same optimism as the researchers of the study. Dr. Emma O'Brien from the Alzheimer's Research U.K. reminded his colleagues not get too ahead of themselves, according to Inquisitr.

"This study sheds light on one of the molecular chain of events that could be driving the loss of nerve cell communication points in Alzheimer's, but it is too soon to conclude whether this could be targeted to develop new treatments or to improve diagnosis."

The latest facts and figures from the Alzheimer's Association show that the disease is already the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2015 and 1 in every 3 senior citizens is going to die with it and other types of dementia.

Alzheimer's is also the only one among the top 10 causes of death in the country that cannot be prevented, slowed or cured. The disease and other dementias will cost the U.S. about $226 billion in 2015 alone and the amount could go up to $1.1 trillion come 2050.

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