New Focus on Blood-Brain Barrier Spurs Research on Dementia

It is thought that the blood-brain barrier becomes more permeable as we age, allowing molecules harmful to neurons to enter the brain, triggering inflammation and cell death. It has long been assumed that dementia was due to the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins, but numerous studies focusing on beta-amyloid have failed to make headway in the fight to find a cure for dementia. Now focus is being placed on the study of the blood-brain barrier to develop new treatments.

Dr. Alon Friedman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel proved that almost 60% of people over age 70 have a leaky blood-brain barrier. He and Dr. Daniela Kaufer of UC Berkeley suggest that dementia and loss of neurons is really due to the “inflammatory fog” that ensues when harmful chemicals not usually passable crosses the blood-brain barrier.

There is now a drug that may help seal the barrier, and there is a receptor that has been discovered (TGF-B), that if blocked by a newly discovered chemical (Palo Alto), did not allow the albumen to harm the neurons. It was tested in mice and the effects were very promising. Dr. Kaufman at UC Berkeley and Ben-Gurion have formed a company to create and test a new drug that hopefully has the same effect in people with dementia as the results achieved in mice.

Daily Mail Saturday December 7th, 2019 Health

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