Thursday December 13, 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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Managing Cholesterol Might Help To Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk

These included several points within the CELF1/MTCH2/SPI1 region on chromosome 11 that previously had been linked to the immune system

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Can managing cholesterol reduce Alzheimer's risk? Read it out here. Pixabay

Managing cholesterol might help reduce Alzheimer’s risk, says researchers, including one of Indian-origin, who identified a genetic link between the progressive brain disorder and heart disease.

Examining DNA from more than 1.5 million people, the study showed that risk factors for heart disease such as elevated triglyceride and cholesterol levels (HDL, LDL, and total cholesterol) were genetically related to Alzheimer’s risk.

However, genes that contribute to other cardiovascular risk factors, like body mass index and Type-2 diabetes, did not seem to contribute to genetic risk for Alzheimer’s.

“The genes that influenced lipid metabolism were the ones that also were related to Alzheimer’s disease risk,” said Celeste M. Karch, Assistant Professor at the Washington University’s School of Medicine.

Thus, if the right genes and proteins could be targeted, it may be possible to lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease in some people by managing their cholesterol and triglycerides, added Rahul S. Desikan, Assistant Professor at the UCSF.

For the study, published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, the team identified points of DNA that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and also heighten the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

"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.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

The team looked at differences in the DNA of people with factors that contribute to heart disease or Alzheimer’s disease and identified 90 points across the genome that were associated with risk for both diseases.

Their analysis confirmed that six of the 90 regions had very strong effects on Alzheimer’s and heightened blood lipid levels, including several within genes that had not previously been linked to dementia risk.

These included several points within the CELF1/MTCH2/SPI1 region on chromosome 11 that previously had been linked to the immune system.

Also Read- Longer Exposure to Honking Traffic Makes You Obese

The researchers confirmed their findings in a large genetic study of healthy adults by showing that these same risk factors were more common in people with a family history of Alzheimer’s, even though they had not themselves developed dementia or other symptoms such as memory loss.

“These results imply that cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s pathology co-occur because they are linked genetically. That is, if you carry this handful of gene variants, you may be at risk not only for heart disease but also for Alzheimer’s,” Desikan said. (IANS)