Dr. Domenico Pratico has spent his professional life on memories.
“In my Lab we say we want the memory to last a lifetime, that’s our motto, that’s why we work on this disease, because memory should be there, last forever.”
He and his team at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine have announced new research showing a link between Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease.
Down’s Syndrome causes developmental and intellectual delays because of a third copy of the 21st chromosome, while Alzheimer’s is progressive – destroying memory and other mental functions. Those with Down’s Syndrome unavoidably develop Alzheimer’s at some point in their lives.
Dr. Pratico’s research seems to have figured an explanation.
“So, what happens is having this excess, or extra chromosome, they also carry a piece of DNA, which is the material responsible for producing particular proteins. Among the protein in this extra chromosome we know there is a protein called amyloid precursor protein, which is known to be the source of the amyloid beta in Alzheimer’s disease.”
In summary, Down’s Syndrome patients show the exact process in their brains that Alzheimer’s patients do. Their brains produce too of the protein amyloid, which acts like a plaque, clogging up the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory).
His research discovered new ways to combat the process, which could become a potential treatment for all people suffering with Alzheimer’s.
“[People with Alzheimer’s] would be the next patient that would benefit the most from this therapy. Once we demonstrate efficacy in the Down’s Syndrome trials, that could easily be the next clinical trial.”
The doctors are hard at work researching, trying to expedite the process to human clinical trials within the next few years.
Click here to read more on the research and possible treatment options.