Alzheimer’s is caused by many factors, ranging from brain inflammation to an accumulation of amyloid proteins. For some people, the brain protein tau contributes to the development of this disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is fairly common in aging adults. However, it is not the only health condition they are susceptible to. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality home care. Bridgewater families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
During a recent study of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis may have found a way to halt the neurological damage caused by tau. Here is some useful information about their research.
What Is Tau?
Tau is a naturally occurring protein in the brain. When functioning properly, it stabilizes microtubules and aids in cell transport. In its intended capacity, tau keeps the transportation tracks of the brain straight, even, and ideal for travel. Everything from cell parts to food molecules travel along this protein-based transport system, and when it is damaged it can cause certain neurological dysfunctions.
How Does Tau Damage the Brain?
When tau is not functioning appropriately, it can collapse into tangles. The neurological transportation system gets twisted, and it can eventually disintegrate. This impedes cell function in the brain, as nutrients and essential supplies can no longer reach their intended destination. These tangles can impair the parts of the brain involved in thinking, planning, learning, and memory, and they are often found in seniors afflicted with Alzheimer’s.
Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Bridgewater seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
What Does the New Research Suggest?
The researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have studied the tau protein, and they have found that levels of this protein can in fact be reduced. By impeding the production of the protein, the researchers were able to prevent neurological damage and, in some cases, even reverse existing damage.
How Did the Scientists Conduct Their Study?
The researchers used genetically modified mice to test their tau protein hypothesis. They modified the mice so their brains would create a type of tau that tends to form clumps. These mice developed tau tangles similar to those found in humans with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
The scientists then treated the mice with a molecule known as antisense oligonucleotide, which obstructs the body’s ability to build proteins and destroys the message before it reaches the part of the body that creates harmful tau.
When the mice were treated with this molecule, the buildup of tau was lessened and reversed, and neurological cell death was halted. The treated mice also lived longer than their untreated counterparts, and they showed signs of heightened cognitive performance.
When Will This Treatment Be Available for Humans?
The Food and Drug Administration has approved oligonucleotide treatments for humans. It is currently being administered to people with the neuromuscular diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Trials for ALS and Huntington’s disease are also being conducted and may yield positive results for people with neuromuscular concerns. These treatments are not yet approved for use on seniors with Alzheimer’s. However, the research conducted thus far is very promising.
For many families in Bridgewater, NJ, Alzheimer’s care is an essential component of helping their elderly loved ones remain healthy, safe, and happy in the comfort of home. From cognitive stimulation to help with tasks like meal prep, light housekeeping, and transportation, the caregivers at Home Care Assistance are the top choice for families who cannot provide the Alzheimer’s care their aging loved ones need and deserve. If your senior loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and needs help with his or her daily activities, call us today at 908.450.9400.