Can Alzheimer’s Be Reversed?

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have announced a stunning breakthrough in research into Alzheimer’s Disease.  They successfully reversed the symptoms of the disease that affect memory loss.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of dementia, a general term for conditions that affect mental ability.  Alzheimer’s, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.

Memory loss occurs when an enzyme (HDAC2) compresses the brain’s memory genes and renders them useless.  This causes forgetfulness and difficulty in forming memories. (MIT News)

Researchers have tried to block HDAC2, but previous efforts also blocked a related enzyme (HDAC1) that is critical for cell proliferation.

The MIT researchers found a way to precisely target HDAC2 by instead going after SP3, a gene that binds with HDAC2.  In doing so, they successfully reversed memory loss in mice and restored the mice’s ability to form long-term memories.  The hope is that this work will lead to new treatments for humans.

“Our findings provide alternative avenues for the development of drugs to treat AD, and potentially other neurological disorders” the researchers write.  “Growing evidence indicates the involvement of HDAC2 in a number of other neurological disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.”

I’ve blogged before about how Agilent technologies are used in Alzheimer’s research.  For this latest work, equipment included an Agilent QuikChange II mutagenesis kit.

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