University of Adelaide in Australia researchers recently found that certain neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease may be caused by inflammation that results from an immune system which has gone out of control and is overactive. In the past research into Alzheimer’s has typically focused on amyloid plaques, a type of protein deposits that are found in the brains of patients with this condition, but it is obvious that this explanation is not adequate. According to many medical investigators there is very strong evidence that shows that dementia related diseases like Alzheimer’s, Huntington, and Parkinson’s diseases are caused by an auto inflammation trigger that causes a persistent inflammatory response by the immune system. This response causes brain cells to die off.
The study shows that an overactive immune system can cause chronic and persistent inflammation, and this could cause dementia. University of Adelaide’s School of Biological Sciences Professor Robert Richards was the study leader and he discussed the findings. “Our interest in the body’s own (innate) immune system as the culprit began when we discovered that immune system agents become activated in a laboratory model of Huntington’s Disease. Remarkably, researchers from other laboratories were at the same time reporting similar features in other neurodegenerative diseases. When we pulled the evidence together, it made a very strong case that uncontrolled innate immunity is indeed the common cause. We hope this new way of understanding neurodegeneration will lead to new treatments. We now need to further investigate the immune signaling molecules, to identify new drug targets that will delay the onset and/or halt the progression of these devastating diseases.”
Richards went on to explain “Dementia, including the most common form Alzheimer’s Disease, and related neurodegenerative conditions are dramatically rising in frequency as people live longer and our population ages,. Australia is predicting that by 2050 there will be almost double the number of people with dementia, and the United States similarly says there will be twice as many. Currently we have no effective treatments to assist the millions of affected people, and these diseases are an enormous burden on families and the public health care system.”