Fragile Brain - Scientific American Editors

Fragile Brain

By Scientific American Editors

  • Release Date: 2017-04-24
  • Genre: Medical
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Description

Brain disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s affect an estimated one in six Americans and are increasing in incidence as the population ages. In this eBook, Fragile Brain: Neurodegenerative Diseases, we examine these and other conditions involving the damage and loss of neurons, including other forms of dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and multiple sclerosis (MS). In “The Seeds of Dementia,” the authors discuss evidence of prions and protein misfolding as a universal culprit in Alzheimer’s and other conditions. Later, two articles by Gary Stix report on ongoing research into a cluster of Columbian families that experience early onset symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Researchers studying the genes and progression of disease in these families hope that results will reveal clues about its course and possible future remedies. In “New Movement in Parkinson’s,” the authors outline abnormal cell behavior and genetic mutations that may be behind the disease. In the study of ALS, Amy Yee examines research into why eye muscles tend to last longer than other motor neurons and what this may mean for treatment. Other pieces look at new lines of inquiry in MS, including why researchers are turning to gray matter, as opposed to white matter, as the starting point for the disease. We wrap up this collection with current preventative measures and treatments that target not only disease pathology, but also lifestyle changes as well. In “A Rare Success against Alzheimer’s,” the results of a large-scale Finnish study provide evidence that choices such as diet and exercise can help prevent cognitive decline. Although this news is far from a cure, forward movement against Alzheimer’s – and neurodegenerative disease in general – is reason for optimism. As research and evidence accumulates, we get ever closer to curative therapies that can halt the debilitation and death of neurons.

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