What if we knew how Alzheimer's progressed in the brain, and could put up a roadblock to stop it? The latest research presented in the online journal PLoS ONE outlines a study that suggests that this may become possible.
In this study, researchers engineered mice to have a human gene that developed abnormal tau protein in the brain's temporal lobe. This lobe is where it seems that the tau protein first accumulates, based on the early symptoms of Alzheimer's. They then observed the brains as the mice aged and found that the tau spread through the brain from one area to the next, traveling like a virus. It appears that the tau jumps across the synapses in the brain, which help neurons communicate with each other.
This research is important because it has potential implications for early treatment of the disease. If we're able to physically stop the spread of the tau through the brain, eventually we may be able to stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Now, that would be even more exciting than the upcoming Super Bowl...