In 1901, the German Psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer clinically examined a patient called Auguste Deter who was admitted to the insane asylum of Frankfurt am Main for behavior changes, including suspiciousness directed toward her husband. Over the course of her hospital stay, a decline in memory and other cognitive changes were noticed, a pattern that was considered atypical of a classical psychiatric disorder. Therefore, when she died on April 8, 1906, Alzheimer performed a post mortem examination of her brain at the request of the superintendent of the mental asylum. Under the microscope, he observed two types of protein deposits, a clump of proteins outside the brain cell, the neuron, that he called a “plaque” and twisted proteins inside the cell that were called “neurofibrillary tangles.” Since then, thousands of scientists have spent billions of dollars worldwide to better characterize these proteins biochemically and to study the underlying biology of what is commonly known as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Plaques and tangles are presumed to be central to the underlying cause of the disease and need to be identified in post mortem tissue for a definitive diagnosis of AD.
Read more at: Baltimore Sun