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Nobel Winners Breathe New Life Into Alzheimer's Research

The effects of Alzheimer's are widespread. From patients to families, this degenerative brain disease impacts the lives of countless men and women all over the world. With devastating symptoms that range from difficulty completing every day tasks to poor cognitive function, there is no denying that Alzheimer's research is of the utmost importance. Despite years of dedicated research, there is still no known cure for the disease. That may not be the case for much longer. The latest Nobel Prize winners for medicine aim to take Alzheimer's research to the next level.

The British-American researcher John O'Keefe and Norwegian researchers May-Britt and Edvard Moser won the prestigious award for their discovery of cells in the brain that "act as the body's internal global positioning system." What does this mean exactly? The researchers believe their discovery will allow doctors and scientists to have a better idea of where the disease starts in the brain - and how it can be stopped, prevented, or delayed. Through their work, they found that spatial cells were the first part of the brain to be impacted by the disease. This explains why Alzheimer's and dementia sufferers often struggle with knowing where they are or remembering where they are going. By understanding where the cells begin to degrade and why, this group of researchers hopes to find out more about the way the disease itself progresses.

The main goal of the prize winners is not to find an immediate cure. This is despite the fact that the number of Alzheimer's patients will triple by the year 2050. Rather, their goal is to gain as much knowledge as possible. By understanding the basic progression and biology of Alzheimer's, it will become easier to develop drugs that are effective at slowing down and treating the disease itself. Their work could dramatically impact the future of Alzheimer's disease around the world. This is because the aim of the research is to explain both how the brain cells function and how they fail to function. With a stronger knowledge of the development of Alzheimer's in the brain, finding a cure may still be in the cards.

Work on the brain's navigational system is nothing new - but O'Keefe in particular plans to take the work one step further. He will begin a new job as the director of a new brain institute in London. Over 150 scientists will work at the Sainsbury Wellcome Center for Neural Circuits and Behavior at University College London in the coming year. There they will explore the way the brain is wired - and dig deeper into the way Alzheimer's disease affects it. According to O'Keefe, "It's a very exciting time." Despite the new research, the prizewinner warns that they are "starting to get a handle on it but that doesn't mean it is going to turn into a cure in the immediate future."

While the affects of this new research may not be as instantaneous as patients and family members would like - it certainly is promising. With a better understanding of the way the brain reacts to the disease, more effective drug treatments can follow. It truly is something to get excited about.

Are you looking for more information about cognitive decline and brain health? Contact the Age Matters Clinic at: 647-268-0620. We understand how to improve the life of Alzheimer's and memory loss patients.