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Is the focus on brain inflammation the key to beating Alzheimer's disease?



The last decade of Alzheimer's disease research has been disappointed.

Years focusing on a characteristic of the disease ultimately resulted in no progress towards treatment or prevention.

But next week, when the best researchers gather in Los Angeles at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, an annual meeting, many will present research on another goal: inflammation.

"The major breakthrough is that neuroinflammation is the target. It kills the bulk of neurons leading to dementia," said Rudolph Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard University and neurologist director at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Moves beyond plaques Early research on Alzheimer's disease pointed to a tangible goal: clumps of protein in the brain called amyloid plaques, When researchers studied the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease who died, they noticed the brain tissue was full of these plaques, which are still considered a hallmark of the disease

But although research has shown time and time again that amyloid plaques can play a role in Alzheimer's, it is not the individual key to cure.

Today, the pharmaceutical companies announced Amgen and Novartis that their attempts at a drug that would contribute To block the production of amyloid plaques had failed, in fact, patients who got the drug got worse. The Alzheimer's Association called the result "depressing".


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