Developments in Brief : Researchers Get Brainy Idea on Alzheimer’s

Researchers have discovered a brain protein in Alzheimer’s disease patients that is not found in normal brains.

The finding may allow doctors to precisely diagnose the disease and lead to a better understanding of it. The discovery also has potential significance for more than just the 2 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, for which there is no cure or effective treatment. Many other causes of mental deterioration are being confused with Alzheimer’s that could be treated if their cause were ascertained.

Alzheimer’s disease is marked by progressive loss of memory and intellectual function and is eventually fatal. Research on its cause, progress and treatment is difficult because of the inability to distinguish in living patients between dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and similar conditions resulting from malnutrition, depression or cerebrovascular diseases.

The protein was discovered by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and reported in the current issue of Science.