There are 5.2 million Americans dealing with Alzheimer’s disease. Recent statistics show that every 67 seconds, the number of people suffering from it grows. This problem is not limited to United States; in fact, this form of dementia is an enduring problem all over the globe. Nowadays, many medical researchers are making it a point to study this disease – even ones in space.
A recent study regarding Alzheimer’s shows that nerve cells in the brain become strangled when certain proteins become long fibers that accumulate and ultimately strangle the cells. It is in the International Space Station where medical researchers focused on studying Alzheimer’s are working hand in hand with astronauts to check on the roots of the disease.
Researchers have found a way to speed up the accumulation of protein fibers in order to cut down the waiting time for the research. On the space station, the accumulated fibers will not collapse under their own weight, making the location a more suitable place to conduct studies.
Dan Woodard of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center explained that the fibers are somewhat akin to human body crankcase sludge. They build up over time and there is no way for the body to dispose of them. The experiment, the Self-Assembly in Biology and the Origin of Life: A Study into Alzheimer’s (SABOL), is aboard the Space X Dragon spacecraft carried by a Falcon 9 rocket.
The findings from the experiment, however, will not give us a cure to the disease. SABOL is more concerned with understanding the process of how Alzheimer’s develops rather than focusing on how to develop a pill that would ultimately cure the disease. Regardless, the research is the first part of a planned series of experiments, and Woodard believes that the resulting findings will be immensely beneficial for the field of medicine as a whole.