Can Alzheimer’s Disease Be Prevented?

A recent study in The Lancet Neurology Journal suggests that one third of worldwide Alzheimer’s cases could be prevented.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia, a general term for conditions that affect mental ability.  “Dementia” means that two or more core mental functions are impaired:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Agility to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  (The second most frequent dementia is vascular dementia, which occurs following a stroke).

Cambridge researchers found that one third of Alzheimer’s cases result from risk factors that can be modified.  These factors include diabetes, midlife hypertension, midlife obesity, physical inactivity, depression, smoking and low educational attainment.  The two biggest preventative measures are increased exercise and increased education.

Agilent technologies are used in the study of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s is characterized by the progressive deposit of amyloid-β peptides in the brain.  Swiss researchers used an Agilent HP 3D Capillary Electrophoresis instrument to detect the presence of this amyloid at nano levels.

Japanese researchers used stem cells to model genetic mutations that cause familial Alzheimer’s disease.  They employed an Agilent Bioanalyzer system, microarray scanner, oligonucleotides, genomic workbench and software in their work.

“Heritability” estimates how much diversity in a population trait is due to genetic differences in that population.  Alzheimer’s disease has an estimated heritability of 60 to 80 percent.  Agilent genomics technologies are being used to develop new genome-wide methods for detecting DNA copy number variations that contribute to Alzheimer heritability.

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