Alzheimer’s Disease: The Great Morbidity of the 21st Century
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The number of people in the United States affected by this neurodegenerative disorder is expected to reach 16 million by 2050, with no useful medical therapies in sight. Two current theories about the disease’s etiology involve tissue disorders observed in patients: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. The author, however, proposes that these are secondary conditions brought about by a decline in neuroangiogenesis—reduced formation of capillaries in certain parts of the brain that leads to plaques and tangles. The neuroangiogenesis hypothesis for Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline with aging suggests therapies that increase vascularization, and some of these approaches have already been used successfully in animals with brain injuries.