A flurry of awesome research articles regarding Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurological disorders were published last week. Below are the top ones concerning dementia's relation to the cardiovascular system as well as a new bioengineered method of looking at the disease via protein-activation of neurotransmitters:

  1. Confirmed: There is No Risk of Contracting Dementia via Blood Transfusion

    What they found: The Karolinska Institutet found that though previous studies show that neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkingson's can be induced in healthy laboratory animals through injection of diseased brain tissue from afflicted humans. A study to test whether blood transfusions from diseased persons would cause the same effect. The researchers conducted a study based on a unique Swedish-Danish transfusion database where 40000 patients have been given blood from donors diagnosed with one of the dementia diseases within 20 years of having given blood. The patients were followed up for a maximum of 44 years through the linking of a number of registries and a total of 1.4 million patients who had not received blood from donors with a subsequent diagnosis were used as controls. The principal investigator Gustaf Edgren, docent at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics said the research has found no indication that theses diseases can be transmitted via transfusions. Source [1]

    Atherosclerosis

  2. Diseased Brain Vessels = Higher Risk of Dementia

    What they found: Researchers at Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center analysed medical and pathologic data on the brains of 1,143 older individuals who donated it to research upon death. Of the thousand-something, 478 had Alzheimer's Disease dementia. The analyses revealed 39 percent of the participants had moderate to severe atherosclerosis which were bloodflow-obstructing plaques in larger arteries at the base of the brain and 35 percent had brain arteriosclerosis, stiffened or hardened smaller artery walls. Lower levels of thinking ability, like memory and other skills, were present in persons with and without dementia due to their atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis. Dr. Zoe Arvanitakis, a neurologist and researcher who led the study, says "We hope to better distinguish how the clinical expression of vessel diseases in the brain differ from those of Alzheimer's, so that we may eventually use earlier and more targeted treatments for dementia." Source [2]

    Allosteric Activation

  3. Bioengineers Made a Switch that Can Turn Individual Neurotransmitter Receptors On and Off

    Researchers in Japan engineered an artificial switch that can turn individual neurotransmitter receptors on and off. These receptors' role in memory formation could contribute to the development of new drugs for neurological diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and ALS. Source [3]

  4. An HIV Drug May Be Able to Treat Alzheimer's Disease

Scientists at Case Western University, under the support in part by the Public Health Service Grant, was able to map the allosteric site in Cholesterol Hydroxylase CYP46A1 for efavirenz, a drug used to treat HIV infections. It stimulates an enzyme responsible for 80 percent of the cholesterol breakdown in the human brain. Source

 

Related:

References:

[1] Karolinska Institutet. "No risk of contracting dementia through blood transfusion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160629100047.htm>.

[2] Rush University Medical Center. "Cerebrovascular disease linked to Alzheimer's: Study finds association between diseases in brain blood vessels and dementia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160701183319.htm>.

[3] Kyoto University. "Flipping a protein switch to illuminate brain functions: Pacman-shaped receptor's 'bite' sheds light on learning, memory processes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627124921.htm>.