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Brain changes occur 'long before Alzheimer's symptoms'

Brain changes occur 'long before Alzheimer's symptoms'
31st July 2008

Neurological brain changes occur in healthy children of Alzheimer's patients long before they show any clinical symptoms, new research has suggested.

Significantly reduced connectivity between two parts of the brain which are important for memory processing - the hippocampus and posterior cingulated cortex - were revealed in magnetic resonance imaging scans, according to the study presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Chicago.

The researchers studied 28 healthy individuals, 12 of whom carried the key APOE-4 gene, and found that functional connectivity in the non-APOE-4 carriers was around 65 per cent more effective than in those who had the gene.

Professor of biophysics Shi Jiang Li, who led the research at Froedtert Hospital, said: "Just as if cancer could be detected when there were only a few cells, decades before it was evident, the advantage of identifying those at great risk for having Alzheimer's would be of tremendous value in development of interventional therapies."

Yesterday, scientists from the University of Aberdeen revealed tests on a new class of drug may represent a "major breakthrough" in Alzheimer's treatment.

Rember appeared to have slowed the progression of the disease by 81 per cent over the course of a year.

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