Alzheimer's Cause Possibly Spotted for the First Time ever
Alzheimer’s disease is a medical condition known to every one of us. It has mostly mental but also physical consequences that are devastating to both the patient and the people in his or her close environment.
Even though most people have linked Alzheimer’s disease simply with a loss of memory, its effects go far beyond that. Late stage patients suffer from severe hallucinations and can also develop increased levels of aggression. Fortunately for them and many other potential patients in future, after many years of extensive research and studies, scientists may have found the cause of the disease.
The team that made this great discovery consists of researchers from the University Medical Center of Maastricht, located in Netherlands. The study included 33 patients, 16 of which had some early symptoms of the disease while the rest were perfectly healthy. All of the patients underwent MRI scans. The findings were very important since, for the first time ever, a certain difference between Alzheimer’s patients and healthy people was noticed. That difference was the efficiency of the blood-brain barrier. But what do scientists mean when they are using that term and why is it so important?
The blood-brain barrier is a type of defensive mechanism that blocks harmful substances from reaching our brain tissue but, at the same time, allows the beneficial ones to go through it. However, a dysfunctional barrier could lead to the creation of a toxic environment, which in turn may cause various problems and disrupt the proper operation of the brain. In fact, it was noticed that there is a direct relation between the extent of the blood-brain barrier ineffectiveness and the reduction in the cognitive capabilities of the patients.
Needless to say, this is only a very small step towards understanding the cause of such a complicated disease. One question that emerges is why an ineffective blood-brain barrier causes the exact same symptoms in every single patient since the number and nature of toxic cells and dangerous substances that come in contact with the brain tissue are not always the same. Plus, the number of people participating in the experiment is very low.
However, just like every huge scientific breakthrough, these are the first small steps of a big journey in order to be able to defeat and cure a medical condition for which our scientific knowledge is very limited. It is extremely important to be able to unlock its mysteries very soon since it is one of the few diseases that have such a huge impact on not only the persons suffering from it but also patients’ loved ones.