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Arthritis & Mice: The Links To Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

BBC health reporter, Caroline Parkinson, recently reported on a study about Alzheimer’s disease. The study included laboratory mice and a protein present in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The study concluded that the protein could be an answer to Alzheimer’s Disease. The 2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures reports that there are an estimated 5.3 million people in the United States suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This debilitating disease has costed an annual total of $172 billion and is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. Many of the patients suffering from Alzheimer’s depend on assisted living facilities so they can get the proper medical care they need on a daily basis. However, approximately 10.9 million unpaid people serving as caregivers for those with the disease.

The study observed the immune systems of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system of these patients becomes over active and produces a protein that may attack plaque in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. One such protein, GM-CSF was given to mice with memory loss and the mice fared better. The test results measured memory and learning capacity and compared it to the performance of mice of the same age that were normal. The healthy mice treated with GM-CSF performed slightly better than their untreated peers.

mice in love by *Emielcia on deviantART

Researchers have suggested the protein may attract an influx of cells called microglia from the peripheral blood supply around the brain, which in turn attack the characteristic plaque that forms in the brain of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Experts in the UK said the study was a crucial step and further tests will be undertaken to see if the protein works for people with Alzheimer’s. It has already been recognized that people with rheumatoid arthritis are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. It was originally though that the protective link was due to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) taken by people with the arthritic condition. However tests confirmed that this was not the case. In another study at the University of South Florida, researchers genetically altered mice to have memory problems similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
They then treated that group and other healthy mice with the protein. Another set of mice, both healthy ones and those with Alzheimer’s symptoms, were given a dummy (placebo) treatment. At the end of the 20-day study, the Alzheimer’s mice treated with GM-CSF fared substantially better on tests. The brains of GM-CSF- treated Alzheimer’s mice showed more than a 50% decrease in beta amyloid, the substance which forms Alzheimer’s plaques.

An artificial version of GM-CSF, a drug called Leukine, is already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and has been used to treat cancer patients who need to generate more immune cells. Researchers have concluded that clinical tests on humans are needed to confirm their conclusions. This study is a promising factor for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This could positively change the progress of Alzheimer patients living in assisted living facilities.

800Seniors.com is a leading referral system in the Elderly Healthcare industry. We are located on 5400 Atlantis Court, Moorpark, California 93021. 800Seniors.com provides the perfect match between seniors searching for health care provisions such as Home Care, Home Health, Skilled Nursing, Hospice Care, Medical Supplies, as well as a variety of Assisted Living Los Angeles and Care Homes nationwide. Take the confusion and hassle out of the search. For more information call 1-800-768-8221, visit http://800seniors.com or fax us your details at (805)517-1623.

About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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