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New Treatment Options for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Global Equities

BNP Paribas Asset Management

Alzheimer’s disease was named after Alois Alzheimer, the German psychiatrist who first described the symptoms in 1906.  The disease is the most common cause of dementia.

Dementia denotes a condition involving deterioration  of mental faculties as a result of the disease. The term dementia comes from Latin and means “without mind”.  It is uncertain what causes dementia to develop, but it  is most likely due to alterations in the brain. More than 200 diseases cause dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease accounting for 60-70% of cases. There is currently no cure for the disease, and its progression can range from a few years to several decades until the patient dies from the disease.

The disease is caused by a build-up in the brain of two different proteins, beta-amyloid and tau. Beta-amyloid proteins accumulate between nerve cells, where they cause alterations and inflammation of the brain tissue. Tau proteins accumulate inside the nerve cells, causing damage that render the cells unable to communicate and subsequently destroying them. Alzheimer’s disease thus destroys brain cells and causes the patient’s brain to shrink. In the early stage of progression, the disease typically affects the areas of the temporal lobe involved in memory. Relatively quickly, other functions, including speech and motor function, also become impaired.

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