The deactivation of two genes could be the cause of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease could be caused by the deactivation of what are known as “presenilin genes”. Using mice as a model for the study of Alzheimer’s in humans, a scientific team headed by the researcher Carlos Saura, from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, has discovered that when these genes mutate and stop working they cause neuro-degeneration and memory loss, giving rise to what in humans would be Alzheimer’s. The discovery, published in Neuron, is totally unexpected, since up till now it was thought that the alteration that caused Alzheimer’s was exactly the opposite, that is to say, an excess of presenilin activity.
Since 1995 it has been known that family hereditary Alzheimer’s is caused mainly by mutations in presenilin genes, but it was thought that the alteration of these genes caused Alzheimer’s due to an increase in their activity. Research by doctor Carlos Saura, of the Neuroscientific Institute (l’Institut de Neurociències (IN)) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, using mice, genetically modified to decrease the activity of presenilin genes, has shown that these genes take part in the process of memory consolidation and neuron survival, but in a different way to that expected.
The results, published in the journal Neuron last April, show that the absence of activity of these genes in mice, used as a model for the study of Alzheimer’s in humans, causes symptoms very similar to those observed in persons suffering from Alzheimer’s: progressive memory loss and neuro-degeneration. The authors suggest that mutations in presenilins could be a cause of Alzheimer’s, mainly due to loss of functionality.
Besides, in this study the researchers identify the molecular mechanisms by which the deactivation of these genes in the mice’s brains leads to memory loss and neuron death. According to this study, the presenilins regulate a group of genes that take part in the process of memory formation. The study suggests that in the first stages of the illness there is a decline in presenilin activity which leads to an imbalance in the cellular processes that control memory and causes neuron death.
The discovery opens new avenues for treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, a neuro-degenerative disease that affects 400,000 people in Spain, and without any effective treatment. In the opinion of doctor Carlos Saura “pharmacological treatment that activates the cellular pathways regulated by presenilins could prevent or improve memory loss in patients”.
Octavi López Coronado | idw
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...