Blocking brain inflammation ‘halts Alzheimer’s disease’

This new study was published on the Journal Brain and funded by the Medical Research Council and Alzheimer’s Research UK.

shutterstock_142306876Alzheimer’s disease is a big health problem. It accounts for 60% to 70% of the cases of dementia. In 2015, there were approximately 48 million people with Alzheimer’s disease worldwide. With an aging population and no new dementia drugs in over a decade, the need to find treatments that can either slow down or stop the disease progression is greater than ever. Family doctors, specialists, nurses and students will encounter patients with dementia.

Up until now, most drugs used to treat dementia have targeted amyloid plaques in the brain which are a characteristic of people with Alzheimer’s disease. However, this study suggests that targeting inflammation in the brain caused by a build-up of immune cells called microglia could halt the progression of the disease. An increased amount of microglia cells was foundin post-mortem brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Also previous studies have suggested that these cells could play an important role. A drug used to block the production of these microglia cells had a positive effect in decreasing memory and behavioural problems in mice. The drug also prevented the loss of communication points between nerve cells in the brain, which usually happens in people with Alzheimer’s disease. This is an exciting discovery and the challenge will now be to develop new medicines for people with dementia.

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