Scientists reverse loss of smell in early Alzheimer’s

December 1st, 2011 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 1 (IANS) The loss of olfactory sense in Alzheimer’s early stages can now be reversed by removing a plaque-forming protein called amyloid beta which causes this condition.

Researchers found that just a tiny amount of amyloid beta causes smell loss in mouse models.

Amyloid beta plaque accumulates first in the brain areas tied with smell, well before accumulating in areas linked with cognition and coordination, contributing to full blown Alzheimer’s, The Journal of Neuroscience reported.

Alzheimer’s which afflicts people over 60 years, is an irreversible condition that destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

There is currently no effective treatment or cure for the disease, marked by eroding senses, cognition and coordination, leading to death.

“The evidence indicates we can use the sense of smell to determine if someone may get Alzheimer’s disease instead of waiting until someone has issues learning and remembering,” said Daniel Wesson, neuroscientist at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

“We can also use smell to see if therapies are working,” he said.

Smell loss can be caused by a number of ailments, exposures and injuries; but since the 1970s, it has been identified as an early sign of this disease.

The new research shows how and where in the brain this happens, and that the impairment it can be treated, a university statement said.

“Understanding smell loss, we think, will hold some clues about how to slow down this disease,” Wesson added.

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