Saturday, January 21, 2006

Alzheimer's Disease: New Causes Discovered, Nerve Cells Die As They Divide


By Elaine Meinel Supkis

Alzheimer's disease, the living hell, when the brain's ability to think is destroyed, systematically, is a terrifying disease. Researchers have made a new, startling discovery that the platelets that clog the nerves are due to the nerve cells dividing only half way and then dying. Next: to find the trigger setting this process off.

From Health Day News:
Scientists reporting in the Jan. 18 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience said the neurodegenerative disease may be triggered when adult nerve cells, or neurons, try to divide.
*snip*
Cells divide through a process called the "cell cycle." In most cases, neurons usually do not participate in this process, however.

"In regular cells, like in bone and blood, the cells divide. But brain cells do not normally divide," Tagle explained. "The great majority will not divide. The neurons you're born with are pretty much what you have at end of life."

When adult nerve cells do enter this cycle, however, they will die rather than complete the division. "Cells become stuck in the process of cell division," Tagle explained.
This is very interesting. This disease strikes many, geniuses on down. I have known quite a few people who died of this disease.

One thing I have noticed is the oldest memories are the last to go. One case, I was helping the wife of a sufferer of that disease pack things as they prepared to move to a nursing home. Her husband barely spoke now. But when I walked into the room with his teddy bear which he put in the attic in the 1920s, his eyes lit up. "Teddy!" he said, and like a child, he took his teddy into his lap and began to play with him. He told me several stories about how he tore Teddy's ear, how the nursie sewed it back on again, how they snuck outside to play. As soon as he spoke all this, it seemed to close down and that is the last he remembered.

Within a year, he died, age 96.

I find it interesting that even with the breakdown of the mind, the earliest memories remain, sometimes, a person recognizes no one but maybe one person and nearly always, that person is someone who is very much like an earlier replication. My grandfather was convinced I was someone in the family from 1890. He would wonder why I was dressed so oddly but decided this was just his imagination. He refused to recognize his own daughter for he thought, towards the end, he was a young 14 year old.

Some people try to cope by constantly asking for information which they desperately try to cling to, in many cases, these are people who ran the house in earlier days and can't change the habit of always being "in the know." Then there are roamers who think, since they went out every day to work, they should do this with urgency.

So far, there is no medication or fix for this disease but knowing what events lead up to the breakdown is a clue, like following the thread through the dense maze, there, in the center is the Minotaur, the cause of this whole thing, the trigger, the break in normalacy.

I have known more than one sharp 100+ year old, they are rare, very rare, but there is no reason why we can't all live the same way, no reason at all. Which is why stem-cell research is so important, not that pre-alzheimer brain dead people like Bush can figure this out.
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