24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Alzheimers Disease and other Cognitive Disorders
Resources
Basic Information
Introduction & Causes of Cognitive DisordersDementiaAlzheimer's DiseaseOther Cognitive DisordersDementia Coping Skills & Behavior ManagementTraumatic Brain Injury (TBI)Conclusion and Resources
More InformationLatest News
Dementia Caregivers Often Face Sleepless NightsHealth Tip: Dementia and DrivingGetting Hitched Might Lower Your Odds for DementiaHow You Can Help Head Off Alzheimer's DiseaseDeep Brain 'Zap' Restores Vivid Memories to Alzheimer's PatientsHow to Protect a Loved One With Dementia During a Heat WaveToo Much Napping May Signal Alzheimer'sDepression, Alzheimer's Might Be Part of Same Process in Some Aging Brains: StudyStay Social to Help Cut Your Odds of DementiaBlood Test May Spot Brain Changes of Early Alzheimer'sClues to Why Women Have Higher Odds for Alzheimer'sA New and Better Way to 'Stage' Alzheimer's Patients?At Risk for Alzheimer's? Exercise Might Help Keep It at BayHealthy Living Can Cut Odds for Alzheimer's in People at Genetic RiskHormone Treatment for Prostate Cancer Linked to Heightened Alzheimer's RiskAlzheimer's Genes Might Show Effects in Your 20sWidely Prescribed Class of Meds Might Raise Dementia RiskCancer Survivors May Have Lower Odds for DementiaCommon Blood Pressure Med Might Help Fight Alzheimer'sEducation, Intelligence Might Protect Your BrainOpioids Put Alzheimer's Patients at Risk of Pneumonia: StudyFor Some, Trouble Tracking Finances Could Be Sign of DementiaIt's Never Too Late for New Brain CellsHigh LDL Cholesterol Tied to Early-Onset Alzheimer'sDoes Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer Raise Dementia Risk?Could Alzheimer's Spread Like Infection Throughout the Brain?Newly Discovered Illness May Cause Nearly 1 in 5 Dementias, Experts SayFinancial Scammers Often Prey on People With Early DementiaMore Alzheimer's Drug Trial Failures: Are Researchers on the Wrong Track?Gum Disease Shows Possible Links to Alzheimer'sBrain Scans Spot, Track Alzheimer'sFewer Periods May Mean Higher Dementia RiskOnly Spoken Words Processed in Newly Discovered Brain RegionRate of U.S. Deaths Tied to Dementia Has More Than DoubledEven Distant Relatives' History Could Up Your Alzheimer's RiskHealthy Diet Might Not Lower Dementia RiskDementia May Strike Differently, Depending on RaceHormone Therapy Linked to Slight Rise in Alzheimer's RiskSleep Apnea May Be Linked With Alzheimer's MarkerScientists Find 5 New Genes That Sway Alzheimer's RiskActive Brain and Body Are Powerful Weapons Against DementiaAre Hearing Loss, Mental Decline Related?Education No Match Against Alzheimer'sCould Gut Bacteria Be Linked to Dementia Risk?Plunging Temperatures a Threat to People With Alzheimer'sBlood Test Might Yield Early Warning of Alzheimer'sFrailty a Risk Factor for DementiaAHA: Blood Pressure May Explain Higher Dementia Risk in BlacksSleep Patterns May Offer Clues to Alzheimer'sDoes Alzheimer's Unfold Differently in Black Patients?
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Could Alzheimer's Spread Like Infection Throughout the Brain?

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: May 1st 2019

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, May 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- With findings that might alter the path of Alzheimer's research, scientists say misfolded forms of two proteins appear to spread through patients' brains similar to an infection.

The findings suggest that Alzheimer's is a "double-prion" disorder. This discovery could help lead to new treatments that focus directly on prions, according to researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.

A prion is a misshapen protein that can force other copies of that protein into the same misfolded shape and spread in the brain. It's best known for its role in bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- "mad cow" disease -- and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a degenerative brain disorder.

In the new research, the university team analyzed the brains of 75 Alzheimer's patients after death and found self-propagating prion forms of the proteins amyloid beta and tau. Higher amounts of these prions were associated with early-onset Alzheimer's and younger age at death.

Alzheimer's patients have amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain, but efforts to treat the disease by clearing out these inactive proteins have failed.

These new findings suggest that active amyloid beta and tau prions could drive Alzheimer's and offer targets for effective treatment, according to the researchers.

"I believe this shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that amyloid beta and tau are both prions, and that Alzheimer's disease is a double-prion disorder in which these two rogue proteins together destroy the brain," said study senior author Dr. Stanley Prusiner, director of the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases. Prusiner won a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering that prions were responsible for mad cow disease and CJD.

Prion levels also appear linked to patient longevity, he noted.

"We need a sea change in Alzheimer's disease research, and that is what this paper does. This paper might catalyze a major change in AD research," Prusiner said in a university news release.

For this study, the researchers used recently developed laboratory tests to rapidly measure prions in human tissue samples. They can reveal infectious prion levels in just days.

These tests "are a game-changer," said study co-author William DeGrado, a UCSF professor of pharmaceutical chemistry.

In order to develop effective therapies and diagnostics, scientists must target the active prion forms, rather than the large amount of protein in plaques and tangles, DeGrado said.

The researchers hope that measuring the prion forms of amyloid beta and tau might lead to the development of drugs that either prevent them from forming or spreading, or help remove them before they cause damage.

The study was published May 1 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on Alzheimer's disease.