Measurable Amyloid Buildup Occurs Significantly Before Alzheimer's Disease

Named and formally recognized age-related diseases are the late stages of processes of damage that start much earlier in life. So it is never a surprise to see that specific forms of damage strongly associated with any one specific age-related disease can be detected in smaller amounts earlier in old age, and that the people with more of that damage have a higher risk of later exhibiting the disease state. In the case of the research materials noted here, the disease is Alzheimer's, and the damage is accumulation of amyloid-β, a form of misfolded protein that accumulates in the brain. It and its surrounding halo of chemical interactions disrupt the correct function of brain cells, ultimately causing significant neurodegeneration.

The obvious solution here is to try to remove the amyloid, and in fact the Alzheimer's research community has and continues to spend considerable effort on this goal. It is one of the few areas where mainstream aging research aligns with the goals of the SENS rejuvenation research programs: identify the root cause damage that produces differences between old and young tissue, and repair it. Sadly, safe and effective clearance of amyloid has proven to be far more challenging than hoped. The field is littered with failed attempts, largely forms of immunotherapy, and only in the past couple of years have there been signs of success in human trials. Nonetheless, removing amyloid, and then expanding efforts to other forms of repair therapy, is the only game in town if the goal is to cure age-related neurodegenerative disease rather than just slow it down it little.

Older adults with elevated levels of brain-clogging plaques - but otherwise normal cognition - experience faster mental decline suggestive of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study that looked at 10 years of data. Just about all researchers see amyloid plaques as a risk factor for Alzheimer's. However, this study presents the toxic, sticky protein as part of the disease - the earliest precursor before symptoms arise. Notably, the incubation period with elevated amyloid plaques - the asymptomatic stage - can last longer than the dementia stage. "To have the greatest impact on the disease, we need to intervene against amyloid, the basic molecular cause, as early as possible."

The researchers likened amyloid plaque in the brain to cholesterol in the blood. Both are warning signs with few outward manifestations until a catastrophic event occurs. Treating the symptoms can fend off the resulting malady - Alzheimer's or a heart attack - the effects of which may be irreversible and too late to treat. The researchers hope that removing amyloid at the preclinical stage will slow the onset of Alzheimer's or even stop it.

One in three people over 65 have elevated amyloid in the brain, and the study indicates that most people with elevated amyloid will progress to symptomatic Alzheimer's within 10 years. The study uses 10 years of data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, an exploration of the biomarkers that presage Alzheimer's. Although elevated amyloid is associated with subsequent cognitive decline, the study did not prove a causal relationship. Researchers measured amyloid levels in 445 cognitively normal people via cerebrospinal fluid taps or positron emission tomography (PET) scans: 242 had normal amyloid levels and 202 had elevated amyloid levels. Cognitive tests were performed on the participants, who had an average age of 74. Although the observation period lasted 10 years, each participant, on average, was observed for three years. The maximum follow-up was 10 years.

The elevated amyloid group was older and less educated. Additionally, a larger proportion of this group carried at least one copy of the ApoE4 gene, which increases the odds that someone will develop Alzheimer's. Based on global cognition scores, at the four-year mark, 32 percent of people with elevated amyloid had developed symptoms consistent with the early stage of Alzheimer's disease. In comparison, only 15 percent of participants with normal amyloid showed a substantial decline in cognition. Analyzing a smaller sample size at year 10, researchers noted that 88 percent of people with elevated amyloid were projected to show significant mental decline based on global cognitive tests. Comparatively, just 29 percent of people with normal amyloid showed cognitive decline.



Of all the diseases of Aging, this one scares me the most... not just because of what it can do to oneself, but mainly because of the massive economic, social and personal burden.

This one disease is going to determine what our species is really made of. There aren't any good solutions right now and the window to fix this issue has closed at this point. If we use the normal pathway of regulation, our next window to reduce the many costs of this disease will be in 15 years. That's far too late before it bankrupts every single national health care system on the planet. That doesn't include the massive waves of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease etc. The boomers are now at the prime age where all this is going to hit like a 20 pound sledge into a watermellon.

Right now, we have to decide, how will we deal with the ticking time bombs in our bodies. I see a few options...

1) The older folks vote in legislation that hikes taxes on the younger Generations to pay for their care, damaging the economy (Possibly collapsing it) for the next 60 years

2) Approve assisted suicide legislation like they did in Canada. Market it HARD.. ahh I can see the commercials now... specifically targeted to anyone over age 65 thanks to Googles AI... a nice older man in a suit and tie, immaculate teeth and then a lovely cut-scene to him in a coffin surrounded by loved ones as they 'fondly' remember him. The voice-over is something like "Take the Red Pill! Reduce the burden on your friends and family!". Hell, if I saw that every time I tried to watch a YouTube video, I'd take the pill just to get away from the adds!

3) Logan's Run scenario. Rationing healthcare. We are already seeing this in the US. Many people dying even though we have treatments. (Most likely scenario if we can't find a cure).

4) Find a cure. SENS, CRISPR, voodoo... whatever. Re-allocate funds and fast track the regulation to make this happen. Kicking the can isn't going to work this time.

Paradoxically, this wall of bankruptcy gives me the most hope! There is a knife at the throat of our entire civilization, our economy, our wealth distribution system and the entire status quo. Fix the problem or it all goes to hell. Tick-Tock establishment!

Bottom line, if we don't find a cure for aging (Or at least able to put a dent in it), the future for all of us, young, old, middle, its going to be pretty bleak. None of it will matter anyway.

The technology, and science are ready to lessen the impact of this. The next couple of years will tell us what we need to know about ourselves as a species. Are we a compassionate, forward-thinking, rational society that values life, or will we be a ruthless heartless species that pits one generation against each other, slugging it out for the last scraps left.

We'll all know in less than a decade.

Posted by: mborbely at June 14th, 2017 10:21 AM

Any updates on Sudhir Paul's catalytic antibodies against amyloid beta?

Posted by: Jim at June 14th, 2017 10:52 AM

@mborbely Nursing homes are currently the only "treatment" option I'm aware of for Alzheimer's patients. I'm not sure if it can or should be considered a true part of healthcare.

An AD patient lives with the condition 4 to 8 years on average - the only question you should be asking is - did these people pay enough insurance or whatever you pay in the US to live in a home for 6 years, I imagine in most cases you paid thrice as much.

If your system fails it was meant to fail. No other country relies on a private for profit healthcare as far as I know.

Posted by: Anonymoose at June 14th, 2017 5:51 PM

Hey Anonymoose!

I'm happily Canadian with a Single Payer system. Very happy... Words cannot describe...

However, the systems around the world are REALLY unprepared for this. Recently Theresa May proposed a cap on benefits for dementia sufferers.

I think we can agree that the NHS is one of the best funded health care systems in Western society. The government knows whats coming. They are looking for ANY excuse to cut costs. Thankfully, this is a big reason for her recent thumping at the ballot box. It still doesn't change the financial squeeze. Expect to see more of this in the coming years... we simply can't afford to age.

Right now in Canada, we have a serious lack of mental health funding. We have nursing homes, but they have waiting lists that extend into years. I know... my mother is 84, and she needs long term care... I can't afford a private home at the cost of my entire paycheque for a month.

In order for our Single Payer system to accommodate the deluge of age related disease, taxes on the working young will have to rise. How is that possible when 40% of them are living at home? Will they tend to their aging parents? They might not have a choice....But if they are caregivers, how do they contribute to the tax base?

We can't even afford to pay out the pensions for the boomers.

Bottom line... we can't afford to age, and I really mean the bottom line. We either solve this issue, or its Logan's Run.

Here's some stats, it can help with the enormity of the situation...

1.1 Trillion dollars means that it will take about 7% of total GDP to treat just this one disease. That doesn't touch cancer, Heart Disease, or any other disease of aging. How can an economy work with 20-30% of total GDP being eaten up by dying people? No country can pull it off. None. The system breaks.

Right now, US military spending is about 550 billion a year... So... DOUBLE the arms budget? Just for ONE disease? Its just not going to happen.

Interesting times.

Posted by: mborbely at June 14th, 2017 7:30 PM

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