Amyloid plaques in the brain and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease
Amyloid is a protein that can be vital to cell function throughout the body, but a dysfunctional form of amyloid called beta-amyloid can collect in the brain. Scientists believe that when beta-amyloid builds up in the brain, forming amyloid plaques, it is toxic to the nerve cells. Evidence of amyloid plaque buildup in people with normal memory function has been linked to an increased risk of developing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the future. However, having a buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain does not mean that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease will develop in the next few weeks, months, or even years:
- It can take more than 10 years between amyloid plaques starting to develop in the brain and development of even the mildest symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Some people can have amyloid plaques in their brain and never develop Alzheimer’s disease dementia.
EARLY targeting of amyloid plaques buildup in the brain
The EARLY Trial is for people who currently have no symptoms but who might be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia in the future. The trial is being conducted to understand if an investigational medication is beneficial for treating participants at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia, as demonstrated by a buildup of amyloid plaques in their brain.
The EARLY Trial will help us to better understand the relationship between amyloid plaques, Alzheimer’s disease, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease dementia (see https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet).