New Study Shows Stress Linked to Alzheimer’s
University of Florida’s Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, has concluded that that there’s a hormone which the human brain releases in response to stress, and that this hormone also increases the production of a protein linked to Alzheimer’s development.
The researchers found the stress hormone – corticotrophin – gets released in the brain.
By studying how soon protein plaques develop, where in the brain they are located, and the effects of the plaques on cognition in people with Down syndrome, scientists could gain a better understanding of Alzheimer’s that could pave the way for new therapeutic treatments, the UCSD researchers said. The concept of periodic clearance of brain amyloid-beta across the BBB could hold tremendous potential for Alzheimer’s patients in the future.
By comparing the brain tissue of individuals who suffered from the disease with that of laboratory models, the researchers found differences in the blood vessels which formed the brain’s blood-brain barrier [BBB] that regulates what passes between the brain and the bloodstream, cleaning the brain of neurotoxins.
A breakthrough in the study of Alzheimer’s disease was published by Irish scientists this past week in Science Advantages, an worldwide research journal.
Alzheimer’s is believed to stem from a mix of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. The findings strengthen the idea of a link between stress and Alzheimer’s disease, Golde said. It involves a key characteristic of the disease – a build-up of a small protein called “amyloid beta” in the brain of patients.
Study leader James Keaney said: “We have shown that distinct components of these blood vessels, termed tight junctions, are altered in Alzheimer’s disease”.
“These data collectively link CRF to increased beta-amyloid through gamma secretase and provide mechanistic insight into how stress may increase AD [Alzheimer’s disease] risk”, say the authors. One possible solution – blocking the CRF receptor that initiates the stress-induced process that generates Alzheimer’s-related proteins – didn’t work.
Researchers are now looking at an antibody that could be used to block the stress hormone directly.
“But we need more novel approaches in the pipeline than we have now”.
Western nations are increasingly confronting the dilemma as the number of Alzheimer’s patients and costs rise, and the supply of qualified nurses and facilities struggles to keep up. South East Asian countries are offering cheaper, and to some minds better, care for those suffering from the irreversible loss of memory.
The nascent trend is unnerving to some experts who say uprooting people with Alzheimer’s will add to their sense of displacement and anxiety, though others say quality of care is more important than location. There’s also some general uneasiness over the idea of sending ailing elderly people abroad: The German press has branded it “gerontological colonialism.”
Germany is already sending several thousand sufferers, as well as the aged and otherwise ill, to Eastern Europe, Spain, Greece and Ukraine. Patients are even moving from Switzerland, which was ranked No. 1 in health care for the elderly this year in an index compiled by the elderly advocacy group HelpAge International and the U.N. Population Fund.
The Philippines is offering Americans care for $1,500 to $3,500 a month — as compared to $6,900 the American Elder Care Research Organization says is the average monthly bill for a private room in a skilled nursing U.S. facility. About 100 Americans are currently seeking care in the Philippines but more facilities are being built and a marketing campaign will be launched in 2014, says J.J. Reyes, who is planning a retirement community near Manila.
Facilities in Thailand also are preparing to attract more Alzheimer’s sufferers. In Chiang Mai, a pleasant city ringed by mountains, Baan Kamlangchay will be followed by a $10 million, holiday-like home scheduled to open before mid-2014. Also on the way is a small Alzheimer’s unit within a retirement community set on the grounds of a former four-star resort. With Thailand seeking to strengthen its already leading position as a medical tourism and retirement destination, similar projects are likely.
The number of people over 60 worldwide is set to more than triple between 2000 and 2050 to 2 billion, according to the World Health Organization. And more are opting for retirement in lower-cost countries.
“Medical tourism” has become a booming industry, with roughly 8 million people of all ages seeking treatment abroad annually, according to the group Patients Without Borders.
The U.K.-based Alzheimer’s Disease International says there are more than 44 million Alzheimer’s patients globally, and the figure is projected to triple to 135 million by 2050. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that in the U.S. alone, the disease will cost $203 billion this year and soar to $1.2 trillion by 2050.
The pioneering Baan Kamlangchay was established by Martin Woodtli, a Swiss who spent four years in Thailand with the aid group Doctors Without Borders before returning home to care for his Alzheimer’s diagnosed mother.
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