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Willem de Kooning
Getting to Alzheimer's roots

The end for the Alzheimer's patient is a horror: The person is mute, bedridden, adrift from the thoughts and feelings that make up a life. The brain undergoes an equally disturbing transformation, shrunken by as much as half, mottled all over with hardened plaques. Where neurons used to crackle with messages, all that's left are twisted threads, fittingly referred to by scientists as tombstones. Now, after years of work detailing this devastating finale, scientists are increasingly tracking the path of Alzheimer's back to its roots.They're scrutinizing how certain proteins gum up the brain mechanisms needed for memory. They're developing blood tests and other ways...