Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers find cause of frontotemporal dementia

17.07.2006
Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is the second major form of dementia. Under the direction of Christine Van Broeckhoven, researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) affiliated to the University of Antwerp have recently discovered that the progranulin growth factor plays an important biological role in the development of this form of dementia. Because progranulin is known primarily for its role in tumor formation, this research result is very surprising. Although progranulin’s proper role in the brain is not yet known, it may well be responsible for the survival of brain cells, because FTD patients have a shortage of this growth factor. The new finding predicts that progranulin might also play a role in other types of brain diseases in which brain cells die off - such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Frontotemporal dementia

After Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia is the most prevalent form of dementia in patients younger than 65. FTD affects the frontal lobe, causing the brain tissue to die off. The frontal lobe is the foremost part of the brain and accounts for about 30% of the brain’s mass. Among other things, the frontal lobe is involved in regulating behavior, movement and mood, and is responsible for cognitive functions like memory and speech. So, FTD is clinically characterized by changes in personality and, in a later stage, loss of cognitive functions.

Looking for the needle in the haystack

Genetic research has previously shown that FTD is caused by a defect in chromosome 17. Chromosome 17 is the carrier of the tau protein’s hereditary code, and defects in this protein cause tau-positive FTD. However, there is another form of FTD that occurs much more frequently than tau-positive FTD - namely, ubiquitin-positive FTD (FTDU). Patients with FTDU do not have a defect in the tau protein, but in another protein in chromosome 17. Christine Van Broeckhoven‘s research team has now identified this protein: progranulin. In order to substantiate this discovery, the group worked intensively with neurologists from university memory clinics in Antwerp, Leuven, and Ghent. Genetic analyses of the DNA from FTDU families identifies defects that cause a shortage of progranulin. Progranulin is known in cancer research, where a surplus of this protein leads to tumors. What it does in the brain, and how it supports brain cells, is not yet known.

An unexpected turn

The biological role of progranulin in the formation of FTD provides a totally new insight into how brain cells die off. Van Broeckhoven’s team’s research indicates that the quantity of progranulin in the brain is important for the brain cells’ survival. The hereditary defects that the researchers have found in FTD patients cause only 50% of the protein to be produced, because only one copy of the gene is active. Therefore, FTD patients produce less progranulin than healthy individuals. It has already been shown that too much progranulin leads to cancer - now, these researchers are revealing that too little progranulin underlies FTD.

New diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities

This discovery does not directly result in a new remedy for FTD patients - a lot more research is needed for that. But this finding does offer the prospect of a new treatment for FTD and possibly also for other diseases of the brain that entail the dying off of brain cells - like Alzheimer’s disease as well as Parkinson’s disease. Given that a deficiency of progranulin leads to FTD, administration of this protein could offer a simple solution. However, the trick will be to administer the right quantity, because too much progranulin leads to the formation of tumors. A fine line to navigate! Thanks to this finding, though, upon a doctor’s request, a genetic study can be done on FTD patients and their family members if they so desire.

Sooike Stoops | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Vanishing capillaries
23.03.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>