Researchers Identify Alzheimer’s Gene Patterns

Scientists believe that they have discovered a possible explanation for how Alzheimer’s disease spreads in the brain, according to numerous media reports.

The Guardian newspaper has particularly picked up on this exciting study emanating from Cambridge University.

Researchers believe that gene patterns which are located in specific areas of the brain may help to explain why the disease tends to emanate in certain regions before later spreading.

Such patterns were located in the areas of healthy brains which were primed to produce certain proteins.

Scientists involved in the study believe that the natural defences on which the body relies become less able to prevent protein build-up as cells age, and this becomes apparent first in the areas most genetically primed for protein overgrowth.

While this is very much an embryonic theory, it is hoped in the future that it may be possible to target particularly vulnerable areas of the brain for Alzheimer’s treatment; thus making such efforts more efficient and effective.

The study was carried out by researchers from Cambridge University and received no specific funding.

It was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Science Advances, which requires a subscription in order to access.

This was an experimental study comparing data from healthy human brains against data about which regions of the brain are affected in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers used data relating to 500 samples of tissue from the post-mortems of six healthy human brains, all from people aged 24 to 57, none of whom had Alzheimer’s disease.

They analysed 19,700 genes to see which affected protein expression in the brain.

Researchers found that neurones were less likely to express genes protecting against protein build-up, and more likely to express genes promoting protein growth, compared with other brain cells.

When comparing brain maps, those regions of the brain in which tissues were more susceptible to protein expression correlated well with the brain regions that first show signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers commented on their results in the study.

“Our results identify a quantitative correlation between the histopathological staging of AD [Alzheimer’s disease] and the specific expression patterns of the genes corresponding to the proteins that coaggregate in plaques and tangles.”

Findings related to immune response suggest inflammation should also be considered important, indicating that, “the vulnerability of specific tissues in AD may result from the sum of a number of factors, including genetic control of protein exprssion, natural defences against protein overgrowth, and the response of the immune system.”

This research offers an intriguing insight into one possible factor contributing to Alzheimer’s, but does not demonstrate any way of recognising who will develop the condition.

Additionally, scientists have no knowledge regarding a suitable manipulation of gene expression.

It is not even known whether protein plaques and tangles actually cause Alzheimer’s disease.

So any cure or effective treatment for the debilitating condition remains a long way off.

What can be said is that the latest research sheds light on the complex conditions which contribute to Alzheimer’s vulnerability.

 
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New Cancer Study Underlines the Importance of Early Diagnosis

A new study indicates that an alarmingly high number of cancer patients in London A&E departments pass away rapidly.

Research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute cancer conference in Liverpool found that over one-quarter of such patients died within two months.

The experts conducting the survey discovered that people diagnosed in emergency conditions tended to suffer from cancers that have spread significantly around the body.

Additionally, there was also a strong correlation in the research with forms of cancer that are generally harder to treat.

In order to drop these conclusions, researchers analysed data from nearly 1,000 patients.

The individuals examined were diagnosed at 12 A&E departments in north-east and central London and west Essex during 2013.

According to the research, it is reasonable to expect the average survival rates for accident and emergency-related cancers to be in the region of six months.

Indeed, only 36 per cent of the patients assessed by the survey were still alive one year after being diagnosed.

The study also suggested that younger patients were considerably more likely to survive than older individuals.

Half of patients under the age of 65 had died after 14 months, while 50 per cent of 65 to 75 year olds died within five months of the study beginning.

Only a quarter of elderly patients were able to live beyond one year. For those aged over 75, half died within three months.

Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones, the study’s lead author, commented on the findings, particularly emphasising the importance of diagnosis in the fight against cancer.

“These shocking figures hammer home what we already know to be true: early diagnosis can make a huge difference in your chances of surviving cancer. Around a quarter of all cancer cases are being diagnosed following presentation in A&E and the vast majority of these are already at a late stage, when treatment options are limited and survival is poorer. And many of the patients diagnosed through A&E have other health conditions that may complicate their treatment.”

This latest research follows efforts carried out by scientists at Oxford University earlier this year.

The study from the infamous UK academic institution found that other countries with a similar health approach to the United Kingdom had GPs which were more likely to refer patients for urgent tests.

This assisted survival rates, and this impression has now been further reinforced by this latest research.

Earlier this year, another study found that Britain has the worst cancer survival rate in Western Europe.

 
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