Wednesday March 20, 2019

It is Now Possible to Reverse Memory Loss Caused by Alzheimer’s, Says Study

Future studies will focus on developing compounds that penetrate the brain more effectively and are thus longer-lasting, the researchers said

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

Researchers have developed a novel approach that may one day make it possible to reverse memory loss, caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

The team, led by University at Buffalo scientists, found that by focusing on gene changes caused by influences other than DNA sequences — called epigenetics — it was possible to reverse memory decline in an animal model of Alzheimer’s.

“We have not only identified the epigenetic factors that contribute to the memory loss, but we also found ways to temporarily reverse them in an animal model of Alzheimer’s,” said Zhen Yan, Professor at University at Buffalo in the US.

The research, published in the journal Brain, was conducted on mouse models carrying gene mutations for familial Alzheimer’s — where more than one member of a family has the disease — and on post-mortem brain tissues from Alzheimer’s patients.

alzheimer's, cholesterol
Poor sleep can predict Alzheimer’s Risk in elderly. Pixabay

Alzheimer’s is caused from both genetic and environmental risk factors, such as ageing, which combine to result in epigenetic changes, leading to gene expression changes, but little is known about how that occurs.

The epigenetic changes in Alzheimer’s happen primarily in the later stages, when patients are unable to retain recently learned information and exhibit the most dramatic cognitive decline, Yan said.

A key reason for the cognitive decline is the loss of glutamate receptors, which are critical to learning and short-term memory.

The researchers found that the loss of glutamate receptors is the result of an epigenetic process known as repressive histone modification, which is elevated in Alzheimer’s.

“Our study not only reveals the correlation between epigenetic changes and Alzheimer’s, we also found we can correct the cognitive dysfunction by targeting the epigenetic enzymes to restore glutamate receptors,” Yan said.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

The Alzheimer’s animals were injected three times with compounds designed to inhibit the enzyme that controls repressive histone modification.

In animals who received the enzyme inhibitor the cognitive function restored and was confirmed through evaluations of recognition memory, spatial memory and working memory.

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The improvements lasted for one week. Future studies will focus on developing compounds that penetrate the brain more effectively and are thus longer-lasting, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Eye Test May Help in Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

Conversely, in the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer's disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places

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

A future non-invasive eye test may allow early detection of Alzheimer’s disease before memory loss kicks in, say a team led by an Indian-origin researcher.

Retina being an extension of the brain, the optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA) will check patients’ vision as well as brain health, said the study published in the journal Ophthalmology Retina.

The researchers said that loss of blood vessels in retina would reflect changes in the brain, be it for both healthy people or Alzheimer’s patients.

“We know that there are changes that occur in the brain in the small blood vessels in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and because the retina is an extension of the brain, we wanted to investigate whether these changes could be detected,” said lead author Dilraj S. Grewal, ophthalmologist at Duke University.

Using the OCTA that uses light waves that reveal blood flow in every layer of the retina, the researches checked more than 200 people.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

They found that in people with healthy brains, microscopic blood vessels form a dense web at the back of the eye inside the retina — as was seen in 133 participants in a control group.

Conversely, in the eyes of 39 people with Alzheimer’s disease, that web was less dense and even sparse in places.

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The OCTA machines, relatively a new noninvasive technology, measures blood vessels that cannot be seen during a regular eye examination.

“It’s possible that these changes in blood vessel density in the retina could mirror what’s going on in the tiny blood vessels in the brain, perhaps before we are able to detect any changes in cognition,” added Sharon Fekrat, ophthalmologist at the Duke University in the US. (IANS)