Affecting one in eight older Americans, Alzheimer's disease is one of the predominant health concerns facing the elderly community today. As such, providing the necessary accommodations to support individuals with this condition has become a top priority for legislators, assisted living professionals and family members alike.
In an effort to better understand this degenerative disease – and potentially prevent its more devastating effects on brain health – medical researchers are also investigating the causes of Alzheimer's disease. Because the onset of Alzheimer's disease has been linked to the build up of amyloid-beta and tau protein in the brain, considerable research has been devoted to how these tangles form.
Recently, scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered different genetic markers that could play a role in how tau protein accumulates.
"We measured the tau protein in the cerebrospinal fluid and identified several genes that are related to high levels of tau and also affect risk for Alzheimer's disease," said Alison M. Goate, the senior researcher on the project, in a press release published by ScienceDaily.
As both amyloid-beta and tau are implicated in Alzheimer's disease, the researchers argued that there are two ways for genetic elements to dictate the risk of this condition. As such, there are also two avenues to pursue in terms of treatment.
Past research has revealed that certain nutritional compounds, including vitamin D and curcumin, may serve as brain enhancers by targeting amyloid-beta, tau, or both, A 2010 review of curcumin supplements and Alzheimer's disease published by medical journal CNS NeuroScience & Therapeutics revealed that this treatment method could combat amyloid-beta aggregation and potentially prevent the formation of "sticky" tau tangles.
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