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Is Targeting Brain Inflammation the Key to Overcoming Alzheimer's Disease?

The last decade of research on Alzheimer's disease has been fraught with disappointment.

Years of concentration on a characteristic of the disease have ultimately led to no progress in treatment or prevention.

But next week, when top scientists gather in Los Angeles at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, many will present research on a different goal: inflammation.

"The big breakthrough is that neuroinflammation is the target.It kills most of the nerve cells responsible for dementia," said Rudolph Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard University and director of the Massachusetts Department of Neurology. General Hospital.

Beyond the plates

The first research on Alzheimer's disease was focused on a target: clumps of proteins in the brain called amyloid plaques. When scientists studied the brains of deceased people with Alzheimer's disease, they found that brain tissue was filled with these plaques, which are still considered a hallmark of the disease.

But while research has repeatedly shown that amyloid plaques may play a role in Alzheimer's disease, this is not the only key to treatment.

Indeed, pharmaceutical companies Amgen and Novartis announced Thursday that their trial of a drug intended to block the production of amyloid plaques had failed. In fact, patients who received the drug have worsened. The Alzheimer's Association has qualified the result as "disappointing".

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