The abnormal accumulation of fat in the brain precipitates the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study in montreal. This discovery opens new avenues for diagnostic and prepares the way for tests on drugs to control the amount of fat in other parts of the body.
“Our laboratory specializes in the study of stem cells”, says the lead author of the study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, Karl Fernandes, the CHUM research Centre. “The stem cells are of interest to more and more specialists of alzheimer’s disease because another molecule associated with the disease, beta-amyloid, which is responsible of amyloid plaques, has not allowed the development of a drug. We realized that the stem cells are located in the same region of the brain that the fat deposits.”
Number of Quebecers over the age of 65 suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
Number of Quebecers over the age of 65 who will suffer in 2031 of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
(Source : Alzheimer Society of Montreal)
The stem cells, which have the faculty of being able to transform into different types of cells, play a role in memory, learning, and depression, all three of which are affected by alzheimer’s, ” notes Mr. Fernandes. The fat, for its part, plays an important role in the brain, of which it is the half of the volume.
Researchers in montreal have found fatty deposits in the brains of nine patients died of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as in those of mice genetically modified to serve as guinea pigs for the specialists of this disease. The study of the fat of the brain is possible only recently, thanks to a technique called mass spectrometry to be used by chemists from the University of Montreal.
“We realized that the German researcher who gave his name to the disease, Alois Alzheimer, himself had observed of fatty deposits in the brains of patients dead, there are more than 100 years old,” says Mr. Fernandes. But at the time, it was not possible to do research on the fat of the brain.”
Trials are encouraging
There are currently drugs that inhibit the production of fatty acid observed by the researchers in montreal. A preliminary test on the transgenic mice of these drugs, which are the subject of clinical trials for metabolic disorders, has been encouraging. “We could try them in patients with a high risk of alzheimer’s, or expressing a mild cognitive impairment, which can be a harbinger of the disease,” says Mr. Fernandes.
It is currently not possible to detect these accumulations of fat in the patients alive. But according to Mr Fernandes, diagnostic tests to detect such accumulations are developed. This could help diagnose early Alzheimer’s disease.