In a promising development, Dr. Pravat Mandal, senior scientist and former director-in-charge of the National Brain Research Centre, has explored a new avenue in understanding Alzheimer's disease. By studying iron deposition and the antioxidant glutathione in the hippocampus, a critical region of the brain, Dr. Mandal's team has identified important factors related to the disease. This breakthrough raises the possibility of an early diagnostic marker.
The team's preliminary study examined iron and glutathione levels in the brains and blood of healthy individuals, while data on these levels in individuals with early-stage Alzheimer's already exist in the literature. The findings indicate that in healthy individuals, regardless of age, blood levels of glutathione and iron remain relatively stable. Although iron levels show a slight increase after the age of 50, it is not significant. However, in Alzheimer's patients, both iron and glutathione levels decrease significantly.
After discovering this, the next objective of the team is to test the accuracy of the tests on a variety of patients and create a protocol for a diagnostic marker that is highly sensitive and specific. To accomplish this, they will conduct a pilot study at Medanta Hospital to confirm the findings and gain wider recognition.
The theory underlying Dr. Mandal's research suggests that iron deposition in the hippocampus, coupled with a reduction in glutathione levels in the same area, plays a crucial role in Alzheimer's disease. Glutathione serves as a master antioxidant, neutralizing excess iron-generated free radicals in the brain. However, when iron levels increase, and glutathione levels decrease, dysfunction occurs.
The researchers hypothesize that during the early stages of the disease, characterized by mild cognitive impairment, taking glutathione supplements and simultaneously using an iron chelator to reduce iron levels may prevent progression. This approach could potentially keep patients in the transitional phase for an extended period, averting the onset of Alzheimer's. To explore this hypothesis, the team has registered an additional trial. If successful, this discovery could be a groundbreaking step towards improving the lives of several patients marching towards developing Alzheimer.
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