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Is There a Link Between Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease

Posted by on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

 clinical trial for Alzheimer's disease

A recent study has shown a link between the abnormal protein that causes damage to neurons in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s (PD) and Huntington’s disease  (HD).  The protein is called amyloid.

 The Study

Researchers have discovered a common link between abnormal protein clumps that cause damage to brain cells in Alzheimer’s (AD), Parkinson’s (PD) and Huntington’s (HD) disease patients. The discovery could help scientists understand the mechanism by which these neurodegenerative diseases spread, and possibly lead to a therapy that targets multiple diseases, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, (focusing on pathology and pathogenesis of neurological disease), compared the etiology of all 3 diseases caused by the death of neurons (brain cells).”  Each progressive and incurable disease, AD, PD and HD  involves different areas of the brain.  AD adversely affects memory and learning, while Parkinson’s and Huntington’s interfere with normal movement. 

The commonality in all 3 disorders was amyloid protein clumps, which ultimately cause the death of cells.  As each disease progresses, various protein aggregates are formed.  In AD these protein aggregates are tau,  in HD and PD, they are alpha-synuclein.

“A possible therapy would involve boosting a brain cell’s ability to degrade a clump of proteins and damaged vesicles,” Edward Campbell, PhD, the study’s senior author and an associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in a press release. “If we could do this in one disease, it’s a good bet the therapy would be effective in the other two diseases.”

The study revealed how the common methods of disruption to normal brain function occurs in each of the 3 disorders, as well as in other neurodegenerative diseases.  This was perhaps the first time a common therapy to treat all 3 disorders has been suggested as a viable treatment option for AD, HD and PD.  

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