Washington: Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may spread within nerve networks in the brain by moving directly between connected neurons, instead of in other ways proposed by scientists, such as by propagating in all directions, results of a new study suggested.The researchers behind the study were led by neurologist and MacArthur Foundation “genius award” recipient William Seeley, MD, from the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, and post-doctoral fellow Helen Juan Zhou, PhD, now a faculty member at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.They concluded that a nerve region’s connectedness to a disease hot spot trumps overall connectedness, spatial proximity and loss of growth-factor support in predicting its vulnerability to the spread of disease in some of the most common forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.The finding, based on new magnetic resonance imaging research (MRI), raises hopes that physicians may be able to use MRI to predict the course of dementias – depending on where within an affected network degenerative damage is first discovered – and that researchers may use these predicted outcomes to determine whether a new treatment is working.
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