Alzheimer’s–New Research Suggests Trouble Starts in the Liver, Not the Brain

If True, It May Be An Open Door To New Treatments With The Liver As Target

Recent research suggests the amyloid protein making up the brain plaque associated with Alzheimer’s Disease may start in the liver and be moved by the blood stream to the brain. At least that’s the theory put forth by research investigator, Greg Sutcliffe, at Scripps Institute in La Jolla, CA.

The findings surprised the investigator who used sophisticated methods of identifying genes that protect against beta amyloid and detecting where in the bodies of mice those genes were produced. Results suggested that some of the genes that controlled AD were, against almost all current medical opinion, produced in the liver and not the brain.

If the Scripps research is confirmed by others, it will open the door to new studies directed at the liver, possibly testing already existing drugs such as Gleevec, now used for leukemia and tumors, but used in this research on mice to “dramatically” reduce the beta amyloid in the mouse brains and blood.

Read that last sentence again: an existing drug dramatically improved the physical evidence of Alzheimer’s in mouse brains. If the Scripps findings are confirmed by other researchers, this line of thinking might continue into human trials and then into real world treatment. We’ll wait and see, but keep an eye out for more on the liver-Alzheimer’s connection.

As with any news that upsets known apple carts, the old guard is often suspiscious of new findings and sometimes rightly so. But sometimes not. Whatever the truth in this case, William Theis, chief medical officer at the Alzheimer’s Association, was not optimistic and is quoted as saying: “You could have any number of reasons (a treatment that targets the liver) might fail”.

Me,  I’m betting  more studies will target the liver. In fact, researchers at UC Irvine have been looking at the role of DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid,  in the liver and its connection to Alzheimer’s. Also focusing on the liver a few years ahead of these findings were some family members  on Web-based medical bulletin boards! Good for them.

(Ordinary people dealing with medical issues are not bound by received professional opinion. Their brains don’t live in content cages.)

Brains in cages

Here’s a link to Scripps with much more scientific detail:

The take-home from Scripps: Maybe we’ve been barking up the wrong tree. Maybe the answer will be found in teeny mouse livers. And then in ours. Stay tuned. I’ve got a Google alert on Alzheimer’s and livers, so I’ll post as new findings come in.

Best from Mel Walsh

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Brains in Cages: Photo by Kevin Hutchinson/Flickr

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