Alzheimer: the disease that erases our past

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Alzheimer’s disease is definitely one of the illnesses of our time and also probably of our future, as well as being one of the most common causes of dementia.

This degenerative disease usually manifests itself through increasingly frequent forgetfulness or carelessness. However, we must remember that, in addition to our memory, it may affect the patient’s ability to communicate (language), their reasoning, their behavior and their ability to understand.

Fortunately, in the last few years significant progress has been made towards the discovery of a vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease that will minimize the impact of the disease on patients, as well as improve their quality of life at all levels.

Figures that we should not eliminate from our memory

Taking stock of the current situation of the disease in our environment, we can review the numbers of affected people in countries such as Spain, where the figures reach 500,000 patients and where it is estimated that there could also be about 300,000 cases yet to be diagnosed.

With regard to research into the disease, there are still some gaps in our knowledge about the origin of Alzheimer’s. It is nevertheless associated with biological factors in our body, specifically with two anomalies found in the brains of patients: beta-amyloid proteins and neurofibrillary tangles.

The beta-amyloid protein has also been linked to excessively low levels of acetylcholine -a neurotransmitter involved in memory circuits, which is fundamental to the learning process that is largely destroyed during the progression of Alzheimer’s.

However, the presence of beta-amyloid is not definitive, as there may be cases in which the patient has significant deposits of the protein without being any clear signs of Alzheimer.

– As far as neurofibrillary tangles are concerned, they are damaged waste in the microtubules -tubular cell structures of the cells-, which also appear in cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

The importance of early diagnosis

Our brain begins to undergo changes years before Alzheimer manifests itself. That is why one of the challenges of the medical community is to detect the gestation of the disease when cognitive impairment is still mild.

One of the specialists who has done most in the quest for a future vaccine against Alzheimer’s disease is Dr. Gurutz Linazasoro, medical director of the Spanish CITA (Advanced Research and Treatment Centre) Alzheimer Foundation. This is a non-profit institution, which aims to become an international reference in the investigation of this pathology, thus contributing to the improvement of society through the dissemination of knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease.

CITA is currently conducting a clinical trial with healthy volunteers, i.e., without a history of the disease, so that in the future we will be able to predict those risk factors that increase a person’s susceptibility to suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

At Best Doctors, we focus on prevention as a major strategy in fighting illnesses, especially Alhzeimer’s disease, a condition that threatens one of the great treasures of mankind -our memories.

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