Loss of smell may predict Alzheimer’s

US scientists working with mice have linked a loss of smell function with the build up of amyloid, the toxic protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

Posted on 13th January 2010

Their findings could translate into a means of enhancing early Alzheimer’s diagnosis in people. The New York University research is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Previous work has shown that Alzheimer’s disease can cause a loss of the ability to smell – but it is unclear why. This research on mice shows that that loss of smell function could be linked to the build up of the amyloid protein.

Rebecca Wood, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said:
“Amyloid is a key player in Alzheimer’s and this research suggests it could interfere with the ability to smell. Although this research is on mice, we hope that further studies can help us understand and better diagnose Alzheimer’s in people.

“Diagnosing Alzheimer’s early is essential as this is when future treatments are likely to be most effective, before irreversible damage to brain cells has occurred. At the moment, most people with Alzheimer’s remain undiagnosed.

“35 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and this number will escalate unless we develop new treatments and preventions.”

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