MAY 01, 2019 10:11 AM PDT

Scientists Define a New Alzheimer's-like Disease

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

A team of international scientists has defined a new type of dementia that closely mimics the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The disease has been named “LATE,” which stands for, “Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy.” LATE affects multiple areas of cognition, including memory trouble and dementia, and impairs activities of daily life. 

In October of 2018, a group of international scientists and experts assembled to determine the guidelines for diagnosing LATE and recommendations for future research. As explained by Dr. Nina Silverberg, the director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Centers Program, in a news release from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “noting the trend in research implicating TDP-43 as a possible Alzheimer’s mimic, a group of experts convened a workshop to provide a starting point for further research that will advance our understanding of another contributor to late-life brain changes.” The results of this working group were published this week in the neurology journal Brain. Dr. Silverberg emphasized that “the diseases itself is not new. LATE has been there all along, but we hope this report will enable more rapid advancement in research to help us better understand the causes and open new opportunities for treatment.” 

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often thought of as interchangeable. However, prior research has shown that Alzheimer’s is just one of multiple forms of dementia. Scientists were clued into the existence of this new Alzheimer’s-like form of dementia when autopsies of suspected Alzheimer’s patients lacked the well-established identifying signs in the brain: an abnormal buildup of amyloid protein and tau tangles. Scans of patients with Alzheimer’s symptoms that lack the telltale buildup and tangle led scientists to identify yet another protein that was causing these symptoms. 

P.T. NELSON ET AL/BRAIN 2019

TDP-43—transactive response DNA binding protein of 43 kDa—is a protein that regulates gene expression in the brain and other tissues, and is well-known by scientists for its role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Recent research revealed that abnormal TDP-43 is very common in older adults. According to the LATE working group report, approximately 25 percent of individuals over 85 years of age have enough misfolded TDP-43 to impact memory and thinking abilities. TDP-43 is also associated shrinkage of the hippocampal region of the brain, which results in symptoms very similar to those of Alzheimer’s.

Currently, LATE can only be identified during an autopsy. A key recommendation of the report is further research to identify ways to measure abnormal TDP-43 and diagnose LATE in living patients. The researchers hope that their report and definition of LATE will make this condition easier to diagnose and distinguish from similar diseases.

Sources: National Institute on Aging, Science News, AP news

About the Author
  • Enthusiastic science geek passionate about wildlife, wild places, and environmental issues. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, Tiffany hopes to educate and inspire the public to protect our planet.
You May Also Like
JUN 15, 2019
Cancer
JUN 15, 2019
Broccoli: the key to cancer prevention
New research published recently in Science is putting more greens on your table. To be specific, more broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, Bruss...
JUN 15, 2019
Health & Medicine
JUN 15, 2019
Caffeine Users are More Sensitive to the Smell of Coffee
Are you a coffee addict? Your sense of smell may be fine-tuned to the caffeinated beverage’s aroma. New research has provided new evidence that frequ...
JUN 15, 2019
Cancer
JUN 15, 2019
Making Cancer Language Patient-Friendly: A Multisector Call to Action
A May 2019 article in The Oncologist calls on members of the medical community to cooperatively create a resource of patient-friendly language for people n...
JUN 15, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
JUN 15, 2019
How Dangerous is Radiation?
No one wants to be exposed to an atomic blast, but studies has shown that the fear of low doses of radiation may be overblown....
JUN 15, 2019
Cancer
JUN 15, 2019
Proton Therapy May Reduce Second Cancer Risk More Than Other Radiation Types
A new study finds that proton beam radiation therapy (PBRT) might lead to a reduction in the risk for a second cancer, when compared to other types of cont...
JUN 15, 2019
Health & Medicine
JUN 15, 2019
Formation of Habitual Cannabis Use Drives Addiction
According to a new study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, published by Elsevier, shifting from brain systems controlling...
Loading Comments...