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Early clinical treatment can halt progression of Alzheimer's disease, UCI researchers find

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"We found that when we cleared amyloid plaques from the brains of mice, the downstream consequences of the disease were lessened and even removed, provided the disease had not progressed to a certain advanced state," said LaFerla, who is associate director of the UCI Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia. "Our data are among the strongest experimental evidence to support the amyloid cascade hypothesis. We've demonstrated in the lab that removing plaques from the brain can indeed lead to a total clearance of tangle pathology."

LaFerla's group is now investigating if combined therapy — one aimed at clearing the plaques and one specifically targeted against the neurofibrillary tangles — will be effective. Such a therapy would help treat more advanced stages of Alzheimer's.

In the United States, five percent of the population over age 65 and one-third of the population over age 80 are afflicted by Alzheimer's disease. It is the third most expensive disease to treat and is the third leading cause of death, trailing cancer and coronary heart disease.

Besides LaFerla, the paper's coauthors are Salvatore Oddo, Lauren Billings, J. Patrick Kesslak and David H. Cribbs. Oddo, a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, is the paper's lead author. The study, funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer's Association, is the first to evaluate a therapeutic treatment in a mouse model that more closely parallels the twin pathology that occurs in the human Alzheimer's-diseased brain.

Details of the Study:

In the study, the researchers used transgenic mice that LaFerla's lab had previously developed. Because mice normally don't get Alzheimer's, human genes were inserted into their genome, allowing the mice to develop both characteristic lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease. This uniquely positioned LaFerla's team to determine the outcom
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@uci.edu
949-824-3969
University of California - Irvine
4-Aug-2004


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