Chicago – A new study conducted by scientists at Chicago’s Northwestern University found that massive concentrations of amyloid protein in the brain areas responsible for language could help developing a rare type of dementia that causes patients to lose their ability to speak. The study’s results were published in the journal Annals of Neurology.
Chicago’s Northwestern University researchers used high-tech imaging for tracking down the accumulation of amyloid protein in the brains of people suffering from language-loss dementia, known as primary progressive aphasia, or PPA.
Researchers used an Amyloid Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging to examine the amount of amyloid buildup in the brains of 32 patients who were diagnosed with PPA. Nineteen participants had high accumulations of amyloid and were considered very likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Twenty-two additional people who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s were used for comparison.
The researchers lately reported that patients had more amyloid in their brain’s left side, where language processing occurs, as compared with the right side of the brain. On the other hand, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s-related memory loss possessed equal amounts of amyloid on both the sides of the brain.
“By understanding where these proteins accumulate first and over time, we can better understand the course of the disease and where to target treatment,” said lead investigator Emily Rogalski.
Rogaski added thanks to this new discovery it will be easier to differentiate Alzheimer’s from PPA. If both diseases are caused by something else, there is no sense in giving a PPA patient an Alzheimer’s related drug, as it would be ineffective.
New methods to detect amyloids
In the past, amyloid concentrations were detected in patients’ brains shortly after their death. But now there are new and improved methods which help doctors track the protein buildups in live patients as well.
One of them is the method used in this study, the new imaging technique called Amyloid PET Imaging. Adam Martersteck, another researcher involved in the study said that the new technology could help Alzheimer’s early detection. Plus, doctors can now know whether a patient is at risk of developing PPA and prevent language loss with proper medication.
Also, a group of scientists from Florida International University in the US have developed a simple, sensitive and portable biosensor that measures the amount of a peptide called beta-amyloid in the blood.
Source: Online Library