Mystery surrounding Alzheimer's is gradually becoming clearer


Alzheimer's is a neurological disorder characterised primarily by problems with memory, language, behaviour and mood. The team of Bart De Strooper, Professor of Molecular Medicine at KU Leuven, has discovered the mechanism behind Alzheimer's disease. This breakthrough is hopeful news for the development of new drugs.

When the breakdown of a large protein known as APP malfunctions, accumulations and so-called amyloid plaques, adhering threads of toxic protein, form in the brain. Human nerve cells nearby start to shut down and disappear. Resulting in memory loss and all kinds of other problems. Even everyday things become increasingly problematic: making plans, performing actions, assessing situations.

Alzheimer's disease is still surrounded by mystery, but an important step towards a breakthrough in research has been made. The pathogenic mechanism has now been identified and it is hoped that it can be blocked. Better drugs can be used at an earlier stage of the disease, where there is already incipient brain damage, to keep the remaining brain cells alive.

Solving Alzheimer's is a very gradual process, as is also the case with cancer, but expectations are positive.