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Alzheimer's link to head injuries

29 November 2013 10:29

Enjoying the holiday sunshine: Alzheimer's disease need not be a barrier to travel breaks

Enjoying the holiday sunshine: Alzheimer's disease need not be a barrier to travel breaks

Regular head injuries have been linked to Alzheimer's disease, according to new research.

University of Cambridge scientists claim regular bangs could spark a process in the brain associated with the condition that causes dementia.

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Researchers used laser imaging to single out clumps of a protein called tau on the brains of sufferers.

They identified potential associations with neuronal harm such as that suffered in contact sports.

The results lend additional scientific detail to earlier studies which have indicated potential links between contact sports and a raised risk of developing Alzheimer's.

A knowledge of how the tau protein behaves and disperses between nerve cells may help to prompt fresh approaches for treatment, Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, suggests.

Tao is found in healthy brain cells. But bunches of malfunctioning tau stop brain cells from working successfully.

These are found in the brains of people who have died with Alzheimer's.

Scientists found that cells instantly started to ingest the protein when small amounts were added to the exterior of brain cells.

Healthy proteins started to not work properly as a result of the clumping, which in real life could be sparked by repeated head injuries during contact sports.

Dr. Ridley added: "It is unclear from this study whether head injury could trigger this molecular process, but it is a risk factor for dementia that needs to be investigated further."

The results are published in The Journal Of Biological Chemistry.

Alzheimer's disease is probably the best-known cause of dementia, accounting for about two-thirds of cases in older people, according to Alzheimer's Research UK. Over half a million people in the UK the condition.