The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease has awarded Dr. Rudy Castellani of the University of Maryland with the 2010 outstanding contribution award for his article he wrote in 2009, which critisizes the favored hypothesis, that amyloid plaques are the culprit in Alzheimer's. Instead, Castellani and his fellow researchers believe that focusing on the amyloid proteins is keeping scientists from exploring other potential causes. They believe it is for this same reason, that current treatments remain relatively unaffected. The key points from their article include:
- Abnormal accumulations of -amyloid and tau are not necessarily harmful and may simply be the result of earlier problems.
- -amyloid may actually be protective, acting as part of a normal immune response, and potentially serving as an antioxident in the brain as well.
- There is a poor correlation, at best, between β-amyloid accumulation at autopsy and dementia.
- The focus on -amyloid proteins has limited the funding needed to research other hypotheses.
While this team of researchers were not directly involved in the recently proposed change in guidelines for diagnosing and understanding Alzheimer's, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. In short, Castellani may have helped to get the ball rolling in the right direction.