Approximatly surrounds the nerves of the brain.

Approximatly 38,000 people in Ireland are affected by Alzheimer’s, a figure which is growing every day. Because this disease is so prominent in our society it is important for us, as chemists, to not only be aware of the facts and statistics, but also what chemical reaction and imbalances make this disease as devastating and fast acting as it is. In people diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s, there is shrinking of the Cerebral Cortex which is the part of the brain that deals with remembering and planning, But what causes this to happen? ┬áPrezi.comBeta Amyloid, which denote peptides of amino acids, are crucially involved in Alzheimer’s disease. This protein clumps and tangles together to form plaques in the fatty membrane that surrounds the nerves of the brain. These clumps then block signals and communication to and from the brain. Once these cell membranes are damaged the cells themselves can die which contributes to the massive loss of brain mass that ultimately brings on dementia and Alzheimer’s. This Beta Amyloid has no use in the body and is only a byproduct of a metabolic process.PlaquesThese plaques form when specific proteins in the neurons cell membrane are processed differently. Normally, an enzyme called alpha-secretase snips APP, an amoloid precursor protein, which releases a fragment while a second enzyme, Gamma secretase, also snips the protein in another place. These released fragments are thought to benefit neurons. However, in Alzheimer’s patients, the first snip of the protein is made usually by another enzyme Beta secretase. This cut combined with the cut made by gamma secretase results in the release of short fragments called beta amoloid. When these beta amoloid fragments come together and become insoluble eventually forming clumps and plaques.Neurofibrillary tanglesThese are created when a protein called Tau is modified. In normal brain cells, these proteins stabilise structures critical to cells internal transport system. Nutrients and other cellular cargo are carried up and down structures called microtubules to all parts of the neuron. In Alzheimer’s patients , abnormal Tau separates from the microtubules causing them to fall apart. Strands of this then dislodged Tau clump together to form tangles inside the neuron which disables the transport system and ultimately destroys the cell.

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