Dementia affects almost 280,000 Australians; a figure set to soar to almost one million by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases.
It’s heartening news, then, that scientists recently made a sizeable leap forward in understanding how Alzheimer’s develops. It was already known that the disease is characterised by an abnormal build-up of the protein beta amyloid in the brain. This stops nerve cells communicating, and they die.
According to a report in Science Daily, US research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that untreated diabetes went hand-in-hand with major increases in beta amyloid build-up not only in the brain, but in the retina. Where there was no diabetes, this build-up did not appear.
Whilst researchers had suspected a link between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes for some time, this study is the first to show a direct association between the two conditions.
It means scientists may be able to track the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s by examining patients’ retinas—potentially providing an early warning device. What’s more, the study’s findings may contribute to drug testing and development.
Full article at Science Daily.
Article written by Fiona Marsden