New Biological Variants of Alzheimer’s Disease Discovered by Dutch Scientists


In a groundbreaking study conducted by researchers from the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam UMC, and Maastricht University, five distinct biological variants of Alzheimer’s disease have been identified. This discovery highlights the need for tailored treatments for each variant, as previously tested drugs may not provide effective results for all patients. The findings of this study have been published in the prestigious journal Nature Aging.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the accumulation of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain. However, in addition to these protein clumps, other biological processes, such as inflammation and nerve cell growth, also play a role in the disease. Using innovative techniques, the researchers were able to measure these additional processes in the cerebrospinal fluid of individuals with amyloid and tau clumps.

The team, led by Betty Tijms and Pieter Jelle Visser, analyzed the cerebrospinal fluid of 419 Alzheimer’s patients, examining 1,058 proteins. Their investigation revealed the presence of five distinct biological variants within this group. The first variant is characterized by an increase in amyloid production. In the second variant, there is a disruption of the blood-brain barrier, reduced amyloid production, and limited nerve cell growth.

Furthermore, the variants differ in terms of protein synthesis levels, immune system functionality, and the functioning of the organ responsible for producing cerebrospinal fluid. Patients with different Alzheimer’s variants also showed variations in the progression of the disease. The researchers observed a faster disease course in certain subgroups.

These findings have significant implications for drug research and development. It is now evident that a specific drug may only be effective in one variant of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a medication designed to inhibit amyloid production might work well in the variant with increased amyloid production but could be harmful in the variant with reduced amyloid production. Additionally, patients with one variant may have a higher risk of experiencing side effects compared to those with different variants.

The next step for the research team is to demonstrate that each Alzheimer’s variant reacts differently to medications. This will enable the development of tailored treatments, ensuring that all patients receive appropriate medications in the future. The ultimate goal is to improve outcomes and enhance the quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

This groundbreaking study opens up new avenues for research and has the potential to revolutionize the field of Alzheimer’s treatment. By recognizing the distinct biological variants, scientists can now work towards personalized therapies that address the specific needs of each patient. The findings bring hope for a future where Alzheimer’s can be effectively managed, improving the lives of millions of individuals worldwide.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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