Have researchers finally uncovered the cause of Alzheimer's disease?
University of Montreal researchers have made what they describe as a breakthrough discovery that could finally provide drugs that treat and possibly prevent Alzheimer's disease. The new finding that had been previously overlooked suggests fatty deposits in the brain may be the cause of Alzheimer's disease that affects 47.5 million people worldwide.
The finding, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, means new drugs could be developed to treat and possibly cure Alzheimer's disease.
Karl Fernandes, a researcher at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)and a professor at University of Montreal and his team have discovered the nature of the type of fat droplets found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients that they say could be a missing link in the fight against the disease.
Fat in the brain could be the cause of Alzheimer's disease
The team examined the brains of nine deceased people with Alzheimer's disease and compared their finding with healthy individuals. They discovered the fat droplets were identified as oleic acid-enriched triglycerides that are specific fatty acids that are found in animals fat and vegetable oils.
"We discovered that these fatty acids are produced by the brain, that they build up slowly with normal aging, but that the process is accelerated significantly in the presence of genes that predispose to Alzheimer's disease", explained Fernandes.
Fernandes and his team found mice engineered to develop the disease begin accumulating the type of fat at an early age.
'In mice predisposed to the disease, we showed that these fatty acids accumulate very early on, at two months of age, which corresponds to the early twenties in humans. Therefore, we think that the build-up of fatty acids is not a consequence but rather a cause or accelerator of the disease."
The net step is to test medications that are now being tested to treat obesity that inhibit the enzyme that produces the fatty acids to find out if they will stop Alzheimer's disease symptoms or prevent the disease altogether.
"Aberrant Lipid Metabolism in the Forebrain Niche Suppresses Adult Neural Stem Cell Proliferation in an Animal Model of Alzheimer’s Disease"
Laura K. Hamilton, Martin Dufresne, Sandra E. Joppé, Sarah Petryszyn, Anne Aumont, Frédéric Calon, Fanie Barnabé-Heider, Alexandra Furtos, Martin Parent, Pierre Chaurand, Karl J.L. Fernandes