A new study has found that deprivation of arginine, an amino acid, may cause Alzheimer’s disease in people.
The researchers are considering the new finding a major development in the ongoing researches on the debilitating illness. According to them, the new findings could also help in developing new treatment strategies for patients suffering from the memory loss disease.
The study, which was conducted by a team of researchers at the Duke University, mainly focused on the immune system of the participants and uncovered that cells designed for providing protection to the brain from infection will uncharacteristically use the arginine during the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Senior study author Dr. Carol Colton said, “Our approach is recognized as unique and opens new avenues to think about what causes Alzheimer’s disease and new ways to treat the disease.”
During the study, the researchers used a cancer-treating drug called difluoromethylornithine for blocking the arginine consumption process. According to Colton, even though the drug helped in saving arginine loss, a more suitable agent is still required to be discovered.
However, the mice that underwent the therapy were found performing better on memory tests.
“The response to this potential new mechanism is favorable. We are cautiously optimistic,” Colton said.
The researchers will now be carrying a test on older mice that are diagnosed with an advanced form of Alzheimer’s disease.
Over five million people in the United States were affected with the Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the figure is projected to increase to 14 million people in 2050.
The findings of the study were detailed on Wednesday in Journal of Neuroscience.