By Richard Liang ’18
Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative illness that reveals itself primarily in elderly patients. The loss of synapses in the brain leads to memory loss and, more severely, the shutdown of bodily functions. The causes of Alzheimer’s are very poorly understood making early detection particularly difficult. With a lack of early detection, Alzheimer’s is usually discovered too late to be controlled. However, researchers from the University of New South Wales believe that they have discovered an important molecule that may serve as a marker for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The team of researchers studied the neural cell adhesion molecule 2 (NCAM2), a molecule that is present in large quantities in the hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for memory. The findings revealed a correlation between patients exhibiting Alzheimer’s disease and low levels of hippocampal NCAM2. It appears that low levels of NCAM2 may lead to the severing or the degeneration of connections between brain cells. With this knowledge, the researchers hope to allow for earlier diagnosis of the disease as well as to pave the way for new theraputic treatments.
- Image acquired from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Alzheimer’s_disease_brain_comparison.jpg
- Leshchyns’ka, Aβ-dependent reduction of NCAM2-mediated synaptic adhesion contributes to synapse loss in Alzheimer’s disease. Nature Communications 6. (2015).doi:10.1038/ncomms9836