Essay on Alzheimer's: A Look into the Disease

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AD: A Look into the Disease
Background problem Despite being known for over one hundred years the cause of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is still not completely understood. This terminal disease affects about 800,000 people in the UK and is expected to greatly increase in number of cases in the coming years. AD has proven to be an elusive disease to understand; yet it is more important than ever to continue researching AD in attempt to find a cure for the many people and family members that this disease affects.
Since 1907, when Alois Alzheimer characterized AD, many hypotheses and theories have been developed. However, there has been little progress toward understanding the pathophysiology that could lead to a cure.
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Language problems develop where the patient will have difficulty naming simple objects or maintaining conversation. A person may also wander as the disease develops. The patient will be in a previously familiar area, but feel completely lost and not know how to get back home. Reasoning skills including ability to make decisions and judgments are affected. Eventually the disease progresses to the brainstem affecting vital functions eventually resulting in death. One hypothesis on the etiology of AD is the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis. The Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis is based on the defining characteristics of AD being amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. This hypothesis basically proposes accumulation of amyloid-beta is the first pathological event that leads to the neurofibrillary tangles and eventually AD. This hypothesis is not universally accepted because there is no mechanism that proves that amyloid-beta accumulation causes neurofibrillary tangles. The reason the amyloid-beta cannot be definitively linked to the formation of neurofibrillary tangles is the lack of evidence to prove whether amyloid-beta is harmful or not. Recent theories suggest that oligomers of amyloid proteins are the cause of AD. Some other theories that may lead to or cause AD include: oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, Prion/transmission,
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