A number of long-term studies into the prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease have reached a dead-end, leaving researchers scrambling to find answers as the impending “silver tsunami” of aging Baby Boomers contributes to soaring rates of dementia among a growing elderly population. To make matters worse, recent evidence suggests that initial study findings that formed the basis of subsequent research may have been fabricated and images included in the published study altered to support its hypothesis.
Alzheimer’s researchers have, for decades now, based much of their study on amyloid protein deposits in the brain that has been linked with cognitive decline in AD patients. An initial 2006 study provided strong evidence that these proteins were associated with changes in the brain in people with dementia, but a new investigation into the initial research has raised red flags and experts in the area of study have been unable to replicate the results of the 2006 groundbreaking study.
According to a recent Everything Zoomer report, by calling the early research involving the amyloid hypothesis into question, subsequent studies that supported this hypothesis are also under suspicion. Many scientists have grown skeptical of the idea that amyloid protein buildup in the brain is the main cause of cognitive decline among older adults, and have refocused their research in other directions.
The allocation of vast amounts of Alzheimer’s research funding to develop a drug to treat amyloid plaques in the brain is also now under question, and although amyloids may play a role in cognitive decline, other factors including inflammation, free radicals, clogged arteries, brain injury, and other changes in the aging brain must also be considered.
Many researchers are now pivoting to look at lifestyle changes that can help support brain health in older age including diet, exercise, smoking cessation, and proper control of chronic health problems like high blood pressure. Untreated hearing loss and social isolation have also been found to contribute to an increased risk for cognitive decline. Even regular dental care that includes daily flossing has been linked with a lower rate of dementia.
Read more about new areas of Alzheimer’s research by following this link to a recent article in Scientific American.