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Protein jab 'may fight Alzheimer's'

21 April 2016 14:02

A protein jab could potentially help those with Alzheimer's

A protein jab could potentially help those with Alzheimer's

A simple protein jab may help Alzheimer's patients of the future, scientists hope.

Glasgow and Hong Kong-based researchers say their "encouraging" study appears to reduce the advance and symptoms of the dementia illness.

The Interleukin 33 (IL-33) protein treatment has already helped to reverse mice cognitive decline. Similar tests on humans are due to start soon.

But scientists believe the process will not be able to help real-life patients for some years.

So how does it work?

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Glasgow University researchers found that the mice's brain and memory functions sharply improved over just seven days.

Scientists already know that Alzheimer's sufferers have less IL-33 in their brains than non-sufferers.

IL-33 seems to function by mobilising the brain's immune cells to lessen the size and amount of deposits which characterise the disease.

These deposits and brain tangles accumulate and result in severed links between the nerve cells, ultimately leading to brain tissue loss.

In addition, IL-33 inhibits brain tissue inflammation. This is linked with tangles and deposits forming.

Peace of mind at hand

Whether travellers have Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, this should not prevent them or their carers enjoying a holiday abroad.

Alzheimer's-related travel insurance can cover sufferers against the unexpected on their trip.

This includes round-the-clock emergency medical cover and the replacement of lost medication.

What the expert says

Eddy Liew, a Glasgow professor who co-directed the new study, says the results are "encouraging" and "exciting".

But Prof Liew urges caution as scientists are not sure how the findings pertain to Alzheimer's in humans. He says there is so far a significant distance between clinical applications and what was found in the lab.

Prof Liew says that too many false medical industry "breakthroughs" have been announced in the past. This means that robust clinical trials should be carried out first before scientists can breathe out. But he says a good beginning has been made.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA has published the findings.