Wednesday October 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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Novel AI Tool May help to Predict Alzheimer’s risk

Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization

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alzheimer's
New AI tool can predict Alzheimer's risk. Pixabay

A team of scientists, including one of an Indian-origin, has successfully trained a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm that may soon help doctors to make accurate predictions regarding cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s disease and provide intervention.

The team, from the McGill University in Canada, designed an algorithm that learns signatures from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), genetics, and clinical data.

This specific algorithm can help predict whether an individual’s cognitive faculties are likely to deteriorate towards Alzheimer’s in the next five years.

“At the moment, there are limited ways to treat Alzheimer’s and the best evidence we have is for prevention. Our AI methodology could have significant implications as a ‘doctor’s assistant’ that would help stream people onto the right pathway for treatment,” Mallar Chakravarty, assistant professor at the University’s Department of Psychiatry.

“For example, one could even initiate lifestyle changes that may delay the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or even prevent it altogether,” she added.

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

For the study, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, the team trained their algorithms using data from more than 800 people ranging from normal healthy seniors to those experiencing mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

“We are currently working on testing the accuracy of predictions using new data. It will help us to refine predictions and determine if we can predict even farther into the future,” Chakravarty noted.

With more data, doctors would be able to better identify those in the population at greatest risk for cognitive decline leading to Alzheimer’s.

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Globally, around 50 million people have dementia and the total number is projected to reach 82 million in 2030 and 152 in 2050, according to the World Health Organization.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, may contribute to 60-70% of cases. Presently, there is no truly effective treatment for this disease. (IANS)

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