A new study has found that plaque accumulation in the brain that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease takes years to develop and could be blocked well before the condition becomes irreversible.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, say the development of amyloid plaque that eventually leads to the disease could take as long as 15 years before the accumulation reaches a plateau, according to brain scan measurements.
The findings, published in the journal Neurology, could be a breakthrough in treatment targeting the pre-Alzheimer’s period before memory and other cognitive losses are significant. In short, the time period before the disease becomes full-blown offers researchers and medical professionals more time than previously thought to intervene in the disease’s development, reported MedPageToday.com.
The study involved 260 people between the ages of 70 and 92 who had undergone two or more brain scans for amyloid plaque. Among them, 205 participants had normal cognitive function, 47 showed mild impairment and eight were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, various research initiatives of the Mayo Foundation and General Electric.
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In an accompanying editorial, the journal noted that while symptoms of Alzheimer’s frequently do not show while the greatest accumulation of plaque is occurring. Any pharmaceutical or other treatment is only likely to affect the development of the disease in its very earliest stages. However, the article also states that there remains an “imprecise understanding” of amyloid plaque’s association with Alzheimer’s based on autopsy studies.