Thursday May 24, 2018

‘Brainy’ mice may help treat brain disorders in humans

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London, Altering a single gene has helped scientists create super intelligent mice and researchers believe that the findings could lead to new drugs for cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and other conditions.

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The researchers altered the gene to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase-4B (PDE4B), which is present in many organs, including the brain.

In behavioral tests, these mice showed enhanced cognitive abilities.

“Cognitive impairments are currently poorly treated, so I am excited that our work using mice has identified phosphodiesterase-4B as a promising target for potential new treatments,” said lead researcher Steve Clap cote, lecturer in pharmacology at the University of Leeds in England.

The findings are limited to mice and have not been tested on humans, but PDE4B is present in humans, the study pointed out.

In tests, the “brainy mice” showed a better ability than ordinary mice to recognize another mouse that they had been introduced to the day before. They were also quicker at learning the location of a hidden escape platform in a test called the Morris water maze.These intelligent mice were also found to be less fearful.

The researchers are now working on developing drugs that will specifically inhibit the enzyme. These drugs will be tested in animals to see whether any would be suitable for clinical trials in humans.

“In the future, medicines targeting PDE4B may potentially improve the lives of individuals with neurocognitive disorders and life-impairing anxiety, and they may have a time-limited role after traumatic events,” co-lead researcher Alexander McGirr, psychiatrist in training at the University of British Columbia in Canada noted.

The findings appeared in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

(IANS)

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Cholesterol Can Increase Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, Finds Research

In the case of Alzheimer's disease, the amyloid-beta molecules stick to the lipid cell membranes that contain cholesterol.

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

Cholesterol — a molecule normally linked with cardiovascular diseases — may also play an important role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have found.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Chemistry, suggests that in the brain, cholesterol acts as a catalyst which triggers the formation of the toxic clusters of the amyloid-beta protein, which is a central player in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers found that cholesterol, which is one of the main components of cell walls in neurons, can trigger amyloid-beta molecules to aggregate, and their aggregation eventually leads to the formation of amyloid plaques, in a toxic chain reaction that leads to the death of brain cells.

“The levels of amyloid-beta normally found in the brain are about a thousand times lower than we require to observe it aggregating in the laboratory – so what happens in the brain to make it aggregate?” said lead author Michele Vendruscolo, Professor at Centre for Misfolding Diseases, in the University of Cambridge.

Cholesterol -- a molecule normally linked with cardiovascular diseases -- may also play an important role in the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, researchers have found.
Junk Food is highly rich in Cholesterol, pixabay

For the study, using a kinetic approach, the researchers found in vitro studies that the presence of cholesterol in cell membranes can act as a trigger for the aggregation of amyloid-beta.

Since amyloid-beta is normally present in such small quantities in the brain, the molecules don’t normally find each other and stick together. Amyloid-beta does attach itself to lipid molecules, however, which are sticky and insoluble, the researcher said.

In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, the amyloid-beta molecules stick to the lipid cell membranes that contain cholesterol.

Also Read: Small Head Blows Can Also Increase Risk of Dementia 

Once stuck close together on these cell membranes, the amyloid-beta molecules have a greater chance to come into contact with each other and start to aggregate – in fact, the researchers found that cholesterol speeds up the aggregation of amyloid-beta by a factor of 20.

“The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol’s role in Alzheimer’s disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta,” Vendruscolo said.

“We’re not saying that cholesterol is the only trigger for the aggregation process, but it’s certainly one of them,” Vendruscolo added. (IANS)

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