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Amyloid, Tau, and Neurons: Key Elements in Alzheimers

Updated on August 7, 2011

With a market of $20 billion dollars, research on alzheimers is producing a much better understanding about the disease and how to create drugs to fight it. The latest findings indicate that a person with the affliction has tacky stuff called amyloids and gobs of tau, which is protein in the brain. Until CT scans, it was only visible during autopsies. Now, scans reveal this development in patients and the brighter the colors in the brain scans, the worse it is for the alzheimer patient. As suspected, amyloids are the most damaging in the early stages before any symptoms appear. They build up until a threshold is reached and symptoms appear. This causes normal tau protein to turn bad and breaks down its ability to stabilize a person's brain cell structure eventually causing dementia. The tau becomes tangles, like a mess of disconnected wires, normally, it is the opposite. The neurons in your brain begin to die off as the disease worsens.

Thus, focus is now on diagnosing the disease early, when the scan reveals any buildup of amyloid substance. Complicating this is that there persons who are normal and do not suffer from alzheimers yet have a build up of amyloid in the brain scan.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 6 years ago


    • K. Burns Darling profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Very interesting hub. My father is an Alzheimer's patient, and I am his primary caregiver, so I am always looking for whatever new information is out there. Voted up, useful, interesting.