"Form of dementia that 'mimics' Alzheimer's symptoms discovered," reports The Guardian.

An international team of researchers has proposed a name for a type of brain disease that causes dementia symptoms: Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy, or LATE. The name brings together previously identified conditions linked to a protein that damages regions of the brain. The damage causes memory and thinking problems, similar to those seen in Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

Alzheimer's disease is thought to be caused by an accumulation of 2 types of protein, tau and amyloid beta, in the brain. LATE is thought to be caused by another protein, TDP-43, which is usually present in the centre of nerve cells, but may change form and spread into the body of nerve cells as people get older.

At present LATE can only be diagnosed by examining brain tissues after death. Researchers say it may explain why some recent trials of treatments for Alzheimer's disease have been unsuccessful. They say treatments may have effectively treated the proteins that cause damage in Alzheimer's disease, but LATE may have continued, masking any improvements to Alzheimer's symptoms.

A group of researchers working in this area came together to publish a consensus report in the peer-reviewed journal Brain.


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