Dementia experts shift focus to buildup of toxins in brain


Scientists researching dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are shifting their focus to a series of proteins that build up in the brain like debris and have a toxic impact on cells, a development that may help improve diagnoses and therapy.

In a speech on Wednesday at the Onassis Cultural Center, Athens University neurology professor Nikos Scarmeas pointed to the beta-amyloid and tau proteins as the main culprits, saying that they can have a potentially fatal impact on brain cells.

Apart from improving diagnostic capabilities, this new knowledge is also spurring the development of medicines to fight the buildup of these substances, experts say.

According to Scarmeas, the accumulation of these proteins typically begins at least 15 years before memory loss and the failure of treatments up until now is generally due to the fact that interventions are attempted after the damage is done.