Alzheimer's: researchers succeed in preventing the development of the disease in the laboratory

Researchers have successfully prevented the development of Alzheimer's disease in mice by blocking certain cells. In the long term, their discovery could lead to the development of a new targeted treatment.

Today, more than 35.6 million people are affected by Alzheimer's disease worldwide and 7.7 million new cases are diagnosed each year. And according to the WHO, the number of patients should double every 20 years to reach 152 million in 2050. Therefore, many scientists are working to try to identify Alzheimer as soon as possible.

US researchers have been successful in preventing the onset of the disease in laboratory mice, as revealed by their study published Wednesday, August 21 in the journal Nature Communications. Ultimately, this discovery could help develop targeted treatments to prevent it from developing in humans.

Previous research had already shown that most of the genetic risks of Alzheimer's are activated in the cells of the immune system better known as microgliocytes. Thus, these cells would play a role in the disease. "However, we did not understand exactly what microglia do and whether they are significant in the initial process of Alzheimer's disease," says Kim Green, associate professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California. "We decided to examine this question by looking at what would happen in their absence," he says.

He and his colleagues decided to use a drug to block microglia signaling in mice with Alzheimer's disease. They found that rodents did not develop beta-amyloid plaques, the pathology characteristic of the disease.

Microglia, a necessary component of Alzheimer's development

"What is striking in these studies is that we found that in areas lacking microglia, plaques did not form," says Green. "However, in places where microglia have survived, plaques have formed.You do not have plaque-free Alzheimer's disease, and we now know that microglia is a necessary component in the development of Alzheimer's disease. . "

Scientists have also discovered that when plaques are present, microgliocytes perceive them as harmful and attack them. However, the aggression deactivates the genes of the neurons necessary for the normal functioning of the brain. "These findings show the crucial role of these cells in the development and progression of Alzheimer's," says Green.

According to him, this study is a source of hope for making drugs capable of preventing the development of the disease. "We do not propose to remove all microglia from the brain," said Green, aware of the importance of these cells to regulate other brain functions. "What might be feasible is to create treatments that target microglia in a targeted way," he says.

Nearly 3 million people directly or indirectly affected in France

Ultimately, this approach could even help to better understand other brain disorders. "These immune cells are involved in all neurological diseases and even in brain damage (...) The elimination of microglia could allow researchers working in these regions to determine the role of cells and if the targeting of microglia could be a problem. potential treatment, "concludes Green.

Today in France, nearly 3 million people are directly or indirectly affected by Alzheimer's, according to the association France Alzheimer. Nearly 225,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and by 2020, the country is expected to have 1,275,000 patients, worries the association which lists a series of symptoms that can alert the relatives of those affected.

Because if Alzheimer begins to manifest itself by a loss of recent memory, many other signs are revealing. It often happens that a patient is struggling more and more to perform simple daily tasks, including administrative, to orient, or even to dress coherently. He may also develop language disorders and lose objects.