ALZHEIMER DISEASE (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     13th April 2024        
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Context: Researchers seem to have worked out why some people are protected from Alzheimer’s disease despite carrying a high risk gene linked to the debilitating condition.

Key Points of Study

  • Protective Function of Mutated Gene: Carries out a protective function by producing a mutated version of a gene responsible for fibronectin production.
  • Role in Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB): Fibronectin is a crucial component of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), regulating substance movement in and out of the brain.
  • Alzheimer's Disease Risk Reduction: This gene variant significantly reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 71%, as indicated by a study in Acta Neuropathologica.
  • Identification of APOEε4 Variant: Previous research has identified the APOEε4 gene variant as a major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Mechanisms in Healthy Individuals: Some healthy individuals possess the APOEε4 variant, suggesting the presence of mechanisms in the brain that mitigate its pathological effects.

Alzheimer Disease

  • About: It is a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.
  • May Occur: Between a person’s 30s and mid-60s (mostly) and is very rare.
  • Symptoms:Memory loss, language problems, and unpredictable behaviour.
  • Cure: So far, there has been no concrete cure, but some treatments are done to reduce its effectiveness.

Cases of Alzheimer in India

  • Deaths due to Alzheimer's in India were the highest in three decades in 2019, according to a 2021 Lancet study. 
  • A 2022 Lancet reportestimates that globally, the population suffering from Alzheimer's will triple by 2050 from 57 million in 2019. And in the same period, India's Alzheimer's patients are estimated to increase to about 11.5 million.
  • Expenditure on Mental Health in India: Meanwhile, India's expenditure on the National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) has been decreasing. 
  • The expenditure on NMHP has dropped by about 82 percent in FY 2020-21.
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