Cognitive 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?
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Researchers from Oregon Health Science University have developed a new technique using drugs called “pharmacoperones” which could cure a wide range of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, parkinson’s, cystic fibrosis and diabetes, that are caused by misfolded proteins. The new drugs have the ability to enter cells and fix the misfolded proteins so they can be routed correctly, thus restoring their functionality. This technique was demonstrated in mice and researchers are planning human testing to see if they would have the same promising results. What do you think of this technique? Are you optimistic about it ?
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According to a 38-year long longitudinal study published in the British Medical Journal, stressed middle-aged women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Researchers surveyed 800 Swedish women who were at least 38 years old from 1967 until 2005 evaluating their mental health and wellbeing at least once every decade. The women would report stressful life events such as divorce, widowhood or illness and how distressed they felt by those events. Researchers found that for each additional stressor women reported, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increased by about 20 percent. What are your thoughts about the study? What do you normally recommend to patients who are stressed?
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With previous studies suggesting that copper may protect the brain, controversy has occurred with a recently published study. This study found that copper can actually cause the accumulation of toxic proteins, amyloid beta, which forms the plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The animal study discovered that it was harder for the brain to get rid of the protein with increased ingestion of copper metal via tap water. Researches have suggested that people treat these results with caution and to not cut copper out of their diet. Copper can be found in tap water, red meat, shellfish as well as fruit and vegetables, which are all still very vital for a healthy body. What are your thoughts about these findings?
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