Alzheimer's Disease

Root Cause:
The N60 fragment of the RanBP9 protein increases the production of amyloid beta proteins. These proteins build up in the brain and cause a progressive loss in memory and function as well as cell death. [1]
Affected Organs:
Brain-Build up of plaques leading to a loss of neurons
Historical Background:
Aloysius Alzheimer was a German neuropathologist and psychiatrist and identified the first case of dementia (later named Alzheimer’s disease). In 1901 Dr. Alzheimer had a 51 year old patient with behavioral symptoms including a failing memory, disorientation, and confusion. After she died, Dr. Alzheimer along with two Italian doctors performed an autopsy which revealed a severely shrunken brain however there was no sign of atherosclerosis. The doctors recorded the pathology and clinical symptoms and termed it Alzheimer’s disease. [1]
Common Symptoms:
There are seven stages that a patient with Alzheimer’s disease will progress through. These stages usually take between 8 and 10 years, however it is not uncommon to live for up to 20 years after the first neuron changes occur. [1]
Stage 1: No noticeable impairment

Stage 2: Minimal Impairment- often mistaken for normal aging

Stage 3: Early Confusional (Mild Cognitive Decline)- Early stage Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at this stage. Slight difficulties with daily functions, word recall fails, difficulty with organization, forgetfulness, moodiness and anxiety

Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline- typically lasts for about 2 years. Can identify familiar people, trouble remembering personal history, problems with numbers and daily tasks, withdrawn, denial, difficulty with sequential tasks

Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline- lasts about 18 months. Cannot be independent in the community, needs help with daily activities, confusion about what day it is and where they are, previous symptoms worsen

Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline- lasts about 2 and a half years. Personality changes, doesn’t know names of family members, can’t take care of their basic needs, agitated, hallucinations

Stage 7:Very Severe Cognitive Decline- lasts 1 to 2 years. Lose ability to form sentences and communication fails, trouble walking, sitting, holding up head. Body systems fail, trouble eating, bedridden, hardened muscles, sleeps almost all the time

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Standard Treatments:
Alzheimer’s disease is terminal-there is no cure and will eventually result in death. Currently there are medications available to help slow the progression of the disease. Doctors often prescribe Cholinesterase Inhibitors, a class of neurotransmitters, which only benefit about half of the patients. [1]
Current Research:
Ongoing research is aimed at understanding amyloid beta plaques, tangles, and how these can be prevented from forming, as well as reversing or stopping the damage. As people continue to live longer, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s continues to grow making it an enormous economic problem. Research is aimed at finding a treatment and hopefully cure within the next five years. [2][[3]
References:

[1] Science Daily. (2009). Scientists begin to untangle root cause of alzheimer's disease. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090903163907.htm

[2] Taskiran Ekim, Balci-Penynircioglu Banu (2011) Expression of ASC in post-mortem brain samples of Alzheimers disease patients: A possible role for ASC in Aβ amyloid formation. Turkish Journal of Biochemistry 36: 350-355

[3] Teipel Stefan, Buchert Ralph (2011) Development of Alzheimers-disease neuroimiging-biomarkers using mouse models with anyloid precursor protein-transgene expression. Progress in Neurobiology. 95: 547-556


Flowchart

Stage1- (Normal State):
  • Nothing happen and/or no evidence of symptoms of dementia
Stage 2 (very mild cognitive decline):
  • Memory lapses
  • Impairments in memory of meanings
Stage 3-(mild cognitive decline):
  • Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice
  • Older memories of the person's life, facts learned and implicit memory (ex: muscle memory, such as using a fork to eat)
  • Taking a toll on episodic, semantic and implicit memories
Stage 4-(moderate cognitive decline):

  • Impaired ability to perform challenging mental and calculations
  • Greater difficulty performing complex tasks
  • Poor memory about one's own personal history
  • Becoming moody or withdrawn
  • Behavioral and neuropsychiatric changes become more visible
Stage 5-(moderately severe cognitive decline):
  • Increase of gaps in memory and thinking
  • Individuals begin to need help with day-to-day activities
Stage 6- (severe cognitive decline):
  • Memory continues to worsen
  • Personality changes may take place
  • Individuals need extensive help with daily activities
  • The person is completely dependent upon caregivers
Stage 7- (Very severe cognitive):
  • Individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment
  • They may still say words or phrases.
  • The person is completely dependent upon caregivers
Fact Sheet
1. Name of disease: Alzheimer
2. Root cause of disease: It is associated with plaques and tangles in the brain. Besides that no one knows.
3. Affected cell types/tissues/organs/systems: nerve cells/brain/nervous system and others
4. Historical background:
-Discovers: In 1901, A German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer identified the first case of what became known as Alzheimer's disease in a fifty-year-old woman he called Auguste D. She died in 1906.
-Famous victim: Auguste D(First discover to be diagnosed)
-Historical events: Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers/physiciansof old age with increasing dementia.
5. Common symptoms: At old age, stress but the most common thing is losing memory
6. Standard treatments: There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease. Current treatments can be divided into pharmaceutical, psychosocial and care giving.
7. Current research: Mental stimulation, exercise, and a balanced diet have been suggested as ways to delay cognitive symptoms in healthy older individuals, but there is no conclusive evidence supporting an effect.
8. References:
Alzheimer's disease. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alzheimer's_disease