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A Simple Blood Test May Predict Future of the Alzheimer's Dementia

The Discovery of the Tau Protein Jumping Gene May Help Earlier Diagnose and Better Treatment Options for Alzheimer’s Dementia

This piece was Initially published by Illumination on Medium!


Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels

Alzheimer's is one of the most debilitating neurodegenerative diseases affecting the aging population worldwide. This cause of dementia is more prevalent among people of age 65Y and older. However, the younger population is not immune from acquiring Alzheimer's dementia.

There are three varying hypotheses on the cause of Alzheimer's Dementia. These theories are Amyloid Hypothesis, Tau protein Hypothesis, and the Joint hypothesis. (combination of the latter two)

The prevailing research suggests that Amyloid (a protein characterized by a fibrillar morphology called A-beta fibrils) forms specific plaques in brain cells that are toxic and thus kill them, causing dementia. Concomitantly, A-Beta is associated with Tau protein and is responsible for oxidative stress and nerve cell inflammation in Alzheimer's patient's brains.

Those who support the Tau hypothesis believe A-Beta plaques also trigger Tau protein phosphorylation which by itself is the cause of structural and functional damage to brain cells.

Likewise, a group of scientists supports the joint Tau and Amyloid theory as the cause of Brain cells in Alzheimer patients. However, the Amyloid theory seems to be the most accepted, even though still controversial.

Nevertheless, there has been some progress in the diagnosis, cause, and treatment of Alzheimer's Dementia.

Recently, scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio reported detecting Tau protein's role in triggering a gene (also called Jumping Gene) that can relocate and copy itself, just like a virus' thus causing an inflammatory response in humans brain cells.

While the association between Alzheimer's disease and Tau protein has become more evident over the past decade, scientists at the National Institute of Aging (NIA) have demonstrated the utility of Tau as a potential Biomarker.

The study they funded, Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHITECAP), was published in Alzheimer's & Dementia. The study suggested higher-than-normal blood levels of Tau in Alzheimer's patients. This finding is a significant breakthrough indicating the possibility of detecting Tau in blood long before patients become symptomatic.

Detecting the protein Tau not only helps diagnose Alzheimer's earlier before permanent damage happens but also may help scientists with finding better ways to prevent dementia.

Detecting Alzheimer's early, particularly among the younger population, can be detrimental.

Studies show eradicating toxic Tau may indeed improve dementia and cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients.

The utility of Tau as a biomarker is well-founded and promising. It is another step towards personalizing Alzheimer's dementia from diagnosis to treatment. Nevertheless, the challenges remain in its clinical application as yet. Merely because, like any biomarker, the major obstacle is the process of its validation and standardization for clinical application.

Reference

  1. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "Inflammatory trigger a new clue in Alzheimer's: Researchers discover toxic process involving 'jumping genes.'" ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/01/230106193413.htm (accessed January 8, 2023).

  2. A Comparison Between the Tau Hypothesis and the Amyloid Hypothesis [WWW Document], 2020. . News-Medical.net. URL https://www.news-medical.net/whitepaper/20200127/A-Comparison-Between-the-Tau-Hypothesis-and-the-Amyloid-Hypothesis.aspx (accessed 1.9.23).

  3. Medeiros, R., Baglietto‐Vargas, D., LaFerla, F.M., 2010. The Role of Tau in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders [WWW Document]. PubMed Central (PMC). URL https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4072215/ (accessed 1.9.23).

  4. What Happens to the Brain in Alzheimer's Disease? [WWW Document], 2017. . National Institute on Aging. URL https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-happens-brain-alzheimers-disease (accessed 1.9.23).

  5. Researchers study the effectiveness of tau biomarkers in Alzheimer's blood test among diverse participants [WWW Document], 2021. . National Institute on Aging. URL https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/researchers-study-effectiveness-tau-biomarkers-alzheimers-blood-test-among-diverse (accessed 1.9.23).

  6. Alzheimer's: New Treatment Idea Targets Tau [WWW Document], 2021. . Columbia University Irving Medical Center. URL https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/alzheimers-new-treatment-idea-targets-tau (accessed 1.9.23).

  7. The blood test method may predict Alzheimer's protein deposits in the brain [WWW Document], 2020. National Institutes of Health (NIH). URL https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/blood-test-method-may-predict-alzheimers-protein-deposits-brain (accessed 1.9.23).

  8. TABRIZ, Dr.A., 2022. Utility of Biomarkers In Personalized Medicine [WWW Document]. Medium. URL https://medium.com/illumination/utility-of-biomarkers-in-personalized-medicine-973cfc02deab (accessed 1.9.23).

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