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The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute Identifies Groundbreaking New Therapies for Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease
Date:1/11/2011

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., Jan. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) study published today in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals underlying causes for the degeneration of synapses in Alzheimer's Disease and identifies promising pharmaceutical solutions for the devastating condition that affects more than 5 million people in the United States. The BRNI study is the first to achieve fundamental molecular understanding of how synapses are lost in Alzheimer's Disease before the plaques and tangles develop. At the same time, it is the first study to demonstrate the comprehensive benefits of synaptogenic compounds in treating Alzheimer's Disease.

The BRNI study marks an important shift in our understanding of how Alzheimer's Disease is caused and should be treated.  Previous autopsy-based studies have shown the critical role of synaptic loss in producing dementia (though, not the reason behind the degeneration), yet for decades scientists and pharmaceutical companies have focused on ways to target the amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles thought to play a role in causing Alzheimer's Disease.  By preventing the loss of synapses, BRNI's new therapeutics prevent the progressive symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Alzheimer's Disease is not primarily a disease of plaques and tangles as many had previously concluded, it is most importantly a disease of synapses," said Dr. Daniel Alkon, the scientific director of BRNI and co-author of the study, "This study found that treatments that target the loss of synapses in the Alzheimer's brain, can virtually eliminate all other elements of the disease – elevation of the toxic protein, A Beta, the loss of neurons, the appearance of plaques, and loss of cognitive function; the animals' brains were normalized."  

The study utilized mice genetically engineered to express the symptoms and pathology of human Alzheimer's Disease in two different
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SOURCE Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute
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