In the rapidly advancing age of Alzheimer’s, there are many unknowns about the damage that gradually becomes too intense to overcome, and also how the damage happens in the first place.
A massive international team of researchers working in what is called the Big Bang of Alzheimer’s, more than 2,000 scientists from 50 labs in 18 countries combed through more than 10 million genetic cases of Alzheimer’s and the effect of earlier and later Alzheimer’s diagnoses on the brain.
The resulting scientific mega-study provides fresh information about how the disease works and its progression.
Just a couple of years ago, one of the brains of an Alzheimer’s patient was locked in the majority of the early stages of the disease. As dementia set in, brain lesions started to appear, as did holes in the brain where the brain nerve fibers could easily be ruptured by drug-resistant microbes.
In other words, this was the infamous “tau burst” disease. Now, in this study, all 90 percent of patients with an early Alzheimer’s are free of tau-burst pathology.
Tau is a protein that is strong on the ends of nerve fibers and weak on the tips. When the wires bend out of their regular locations, the disease is thought to be caused by normal wear and tear, but too much can be dangerous and this new data may just offer a hint that early diagnosis of this protein defect may help in preventing future complications.
In another finding, the study shows that the disease appears to behave very differently at the brain level between women and men. The disease appeared to start more easily in women, and to be more relentless over time in men.
Again, this could be because men are more likely to have older brains than women. Women were also said to be “less likely” to work in executive positions.