Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Scientists Identify Amyloid Plaque as Early Alzheimer’s Indication

As an attending psychiatrist at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Antonio Bullon, MD, cares for geriatric patients with neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Antonio Bullon comes to this role having served inpatient populations at Mercy Hospital and MetroWest Medical Center, both of which serve patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Medical science has historically linked Alzheimer’s disease with elevated levels of amyloid plaque in the brain. These plaques have received almost universal acceptance as a risk factor for the disease, but a new study suggests that their presence may be a preclinical sign of the disease itself.

According to study leader Dr. Paul Aisen of the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute (ATRI) at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, amyloid plaques may be not only the basic molecular cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but also an indication for early intervention. 

Patients may go a significant period of time with elevated amyloid levels but no symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe that if physicians offer anti-amyloid therapies during this period, they may be able to slow or even prevent the eventual onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. Implications may be life-changing for the 33 percent of Americans over the age of 65 with elevated amyloid levels who, if study findings are correct, have a high risk of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease within a decade.