Alzheimer's disease is one of the biggest threats to healthy aging. There is currently no cure for the condition, which affects roughly 5.4 million Americans, and experts estimate the number of cases will triple by 2050. However, a new study from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Florida may have discovered a potential pathway to treatment.
The findings, which were recently published in The Journal of Neuroscience, were based off an analysis of genetically modified mice. To mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer's, researchers activated a gene that increased the creation of a small peptide that causes the development of brain plaque. By using antibiotics, the team was able to turn off the production of the peptides, which could signal a potential therapy for human subjects.
"The development of this model could help scientists identify new ways to enhance brain function in patients in the early stages of the disease," said David Borchelt, a neuroscience professor at the University of Florida. "Such therapies could preserve brain function longer and delay the appearance of more severe symptoms that leave patients unable to care for themselves."
While it remains to be seen what impact these findings could have on how the medical community addresses memory care, it does underscore the fact that taking a proactive approach to Alzheimer's disease may be one of the best routes to combating the condition. For instance, regular physical activity has been found to lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's in the first place.
A separate study out of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center in 2012, found that study participants in the bottom 10 percent of physical activity levels were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's over the course of the study.