Protein May Hold the Key to Who Gets Alzheimer’s

dream designsCognitive decline and memory problems of Alzheimer’s disease may be related to a failure in the brain’s stress response system. The protein (REST) is found in the brains of developing fetuses and regulates by switching off genes to keep fetal neurons in an immature state until enough development is needed for proper brain function. REST is the most active gene regulator in elderly brains and appears to protect neurons in healthy older people from age-related stresses. People with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, and other types of dementia have a depletion of REST in the key brain regions associated with memory. Dr. Yankner, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and lead author, and his team discovered REST switches off genes that promote cell death, protects neurons from normal aging, inflammation and oxidative stress. The researchers analyzed the brains of young adults ages 20 to 35 and found they contained little REST, while healthy adults between ages 73 to 106 had plenty. Possible development of new drugs for dementia may be seen in the future once more research and findings are established for REST protein. What are your thoughts about this research?

For additional information, please see The New York Times.

Image Courtesy of [dream designs]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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