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BrainFacts.org

Introduction

Degenerative disorders — Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, among others — affect more than 45 million people worldwide. These diseases often strike older adults and are characterized by progressive deterioration of nerve cells, eventually leading to cell death. Through human and animal studies researchers are developing new and compelling ideas about the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders, with the goal of slowing or stopping their progression. Solving the mystery of what causes each degenerative disorder is important in identifying treatments, and perhaps one day, cures. Scientists have identified key similarities among degenerative disorders thanks, in part, to advances in genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, and imaging technology. These efforts revealed the presence of abnormal proteins in many degenerative diseases, and brought to light new questions about how these proteins interfere with normal cellular functions and spread throughout the brain.

Discoveries

Source: Dana Foundation

With new diagnostic criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease, Dr. David M. Holtzman explains what this might mean to future patients.

Source: Society for Neuroscience

Though it has long defied treatments, new discoveries provide a bright future for those who suffer from Parkinson's. 

Source: Society for Neuroscience

In this video, doctors, researchers, and patients explain the causes and effects of Alzheimer's disease.

Source: Society for Neuroscience
This progressive disorder strikes approximately 5,600 Americans annually, with an average survival time of just two to five years from symptom onset.

Degenerative Disorders in the News

Source: FOX News
Date: 29 April 2014
Type 2 diabetes— long known to have an adverse effect on the brain— has now been linked with the loss of brain matter.
Source: USA Today
Date: 16 April 2014
A new study suggests that as people age, they should be aware of symptoms of apathy, which may indicate a decrease in brain volume and possible brain disease.
Source: NPR Shots Blog
Date: 14 April 2014
A gene associated with Alzheimer's disease appears especially dangerous to women and may be one reason that more women than men are diagnosed with the disease.