“Penetrating the Brain”: Trying to Reverse Alzheimer’s Makes Progress

Carylin Rivera, Reporter

NEWSROOM-  Research published in the Brain Journal reveals that there may be a new approach to Alzheimer’s disease that may eventually make it so memory loss, one of the late stages of the disease, is reversible.

In an animal model of Alzheimer’s, a team of scientists at The University of Buffalo found that if they focused on epigenetics, rather than gene changes caused by other DNA sequences it would be possible to reverse the memory loss in the animal.  This is according to sciencedaily.com, which “features breaking news about the latest discoveries in science, health, the environment, technology, and more.”

According to the article, epigenetics, which is the study of changes in an organism that is caused by the modification of gene expression rather than by an alteration of the genetic code itself, is part of the process story.

Alzheimer’s is a result of genetic but also environmental risk factors such as aging.  These factors combine and result in epigenetic changes which then leads to gene expression changes.

According to Zhen Yan, PhD,  they “found that in Alzheimer’s disease, many subunits of glutamate receptors in the frontal cortex are down regulated, disrupting the excitatory signals, which impairs working memory.”  

The research showed that the loss of glutamate receptors was the result of a epigenetic process known as “repressive histone modification”.

Yan and her team have discovered that by injecting the mice that had Alzheimer’s with compounds that are designed to inhibit the enzyme that controls repressive histone modification, the animal regained cognitive function; which was proved by evaluations of recognition, spatial, and working memory.  

Improvements in the memory of the mice lasted for a week, and now future studies are focusing on developing compounds that penetrate the brain more effectively, in turn making the effects longer-lasting.

Story by Carylin Rivera, Reporter

Edited by Ted Frascella, Editor in Chief

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