Alzheimer 's Disease And Its Effects On The Lives Of Millions Americans Essay

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Introduction Neurodegenerative diseases continue to affect the lives of millions Americans each year, with incidence and prevalence rates ever increasing. These diseases cause degeneration or death of nerve cells in the brain. These diseases can cause a financial and emotional burden on not only patients themselves, but also family members and care givers as well. Molecular mechanisms that underlie these diseases have remained relatively unclear, despite much research. Understanding the mechanisms of these diseases are facilitated by utilizing model organisms to study pathways involved in neurodegenerative diseases. One such model organism is the Caenorhabditis elegans nematode. The C. elegans roundworm has displayed usefulness as a template to study neurodegenerative diseases in humans, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. C. elegans has shown to be a useful model for the study of Alzheimer’s disease. Sydney Brenner first introduced the nematode as a model organism in 1963 (Brenner, 1974). The small, transparent roundworm is easy for manipulation, with a life cycle of 3 days from egg to adult at 25 degrees Celsius (Brenner, 1974). It is hermaphroditic and self-fertilizing allowing for rapid production of offspring. Its lifespan is between 2 to 3 weeks, which is another beneficial feature for scientific research due to its relatively short timeframe. The C. elegans genome was completed in 1998 and showed that about 38% of worm genes have human
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