We start this week with two bits of health-related Good News.
The first is connected to the fact that researchers have known for some time that neuroimflammation - inflammation of the brain - is associated with Alzheimer's.
New research just published in the journal Brain strongly suggests that such inflammation - which can arise from an overactive immune system - is not a result of Alzheimer's as much as it is a driver of the disease.
The brains of people with Alzheimer's were found to have higher levels of microglia, or immune cells, which suggested brain inflammation, and the number of such cells increased as the disease progressed. But in an experiment, mice with an Alzheimer's-like condition were given an inhibitor to keep such microglia from multiplying - and the progression of the disease stalled once the numbers of microglia stabilized.
Dr. Diego Gomez-Nicola, lead author of the study, said the results are
as close to evidence as we can get that this particular pathway is active in the development of Alzheimer's diseaseand that it's "time to progress to the clinical setup," that is, to developing medications.
It's obviously too early for celebrations and remember, assuming an appropriate medication can be found, this is neither a vaccine nor a cure but only a way to prevent the disease from progressing. But in individuals and especially families dealing with someone with Alzheimer's, that "only" is a very big thing.
And this is still one of the most exciting and even hopeful discoveries about Alzheimer's in over a decade. And that makes it good news.
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