What is PSP?


In brain cells affected by PSP, there is an abnormal accumulation of a protein called tau. Tau protein forms ‘tangles’ in the brain cells.

Tau protein can spread outside the affected brain cells in the form of extracellular (eTau) or “toxic tau”.

The toxic tau is taken up by nearby healthy brain cells and by this route, the disease spreads in the brain. This spreading results in the neurological symptoms of PSP.

Researchers are looking at ways to prevent eTau from causing the spread of these tau tangles.

Brain cell

Investigational study
drug antibody

Tau protein

Typical PSP symptoms

Tau tangles can occur in various areas of the brain and therefore symptoms vary from patient to patient.

Symptoms gradually worsen over time, but during early stages of the disease are similar to that of other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Because of this, PSP may be misdiagnosed.

The main symptoms of PSP include:

  • Balance and mobility problems
  • Behavioral changes
  • Problems with eye movement
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty swallowing

Other less frequent symptoms of PSP include:

  • Depression
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Tremor
  • Tight neck muscles

How is PSP treated?

Although some medications may be able to relieve some symptoms, none have been proven to slow or halt the disease itself.

Currently available treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with PSP.

Typical treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Counselling to address psychological concerns
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pain relief and treatment for eye problems
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