Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have enhanced our understanding of how a protein linked to Alzheimer's disease keeps young brains healthy, but can damage them later in life - suggesting new research avenues for treating this devastating disease. In the Journal of Neuroscience, available online, researchers in the laboratory of Yadong Huang, MD, PhD, have uncovered the distinct roles that the apoE protein plays in young vs. aging brains. These findings, which could inform the future of Alzheimer's drug development, come at a time of unprecedented challenge and need. "By the year 2030, more than 60 million people worldwide will likely be diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but we are still grappling with the disease's underlying biological mechanisms, " said Dr. Huang, an Alzheimer's expert at Gladstone, an independent and nonprofit biomedical-research organization.
Dementia - an acute loss of cognitive ability - can be marked by memory loss, decreased attention span, and disorientation. It occurs in severe disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Despite the fact that the condition is common, especially among older persons, there is still a lack of effective treatment. According to Prof. Jiska Cohen-Mansfield of Tel Aviv University' Herczeg Institute on Aging and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, dementia sufferers are often prescribed psychotropic drugs to mitigate symptoms such as delusions. But this tactic can cause more harm than good, she says. Many of the delusions experienced by dementia patients may have a rational basis and could be more effectively treated through behavioral therapy than by medications, suggests Prof.Cohen-Mansfield. A better understanding of delusions has direct implications for the care and perception of those who suffer from dementia.
Proteins are the molecular building blocks and machinery of cells and involved in practically all biological processes. To fulfil their tasks, they need to be folded into a complicated three-dimensional structure. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, have now analysed one of the key players of this folding process: the molecular chaperone DnaK. "The understanding of these mechanisms is of great interest in the light of the many diseases in which folding goes awry, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, " says Ulrich Hartl, MPIB director. The work of the researchers has now been published in Cell Reports. Proteins are responsible for almost all biological functions. The cells of the human body continuously synthesise thousands of different proteins in the form of amino acid chains.
ONCOLOGY New Determinant of Human Breast Cancer Metastasis Discovered Researchers at the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, KY have provided new insight as to why the most severe subtype of breast cancer in humans frequently metastasizes. Tumor cells can exploit a cellular program that promotes cell migration and reduces adhesion between cells to spread to distant sites in the body (metastasis). This cellular program, known as the epithelial-mesenchymal transition, is normally restricted to wound healing, tissue remodeling and embryonic development. Increasing cell motility requires a decrease in E-cadherin, which functions to promote cell-cell adhesion. Led by Binhua Zhou, the research team identified G9a as a major repressor of E-cadherin expression. They found that G9a interacts with Snail, which can repress gene expression, to modify the E-cadherin promoter and block expression of the E-cadherin gene.
A new US study suggests that screening for retinopathy, a disease of blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, could serve as a marker for brain health, after researchers found that women aged 65 and over with even a mild form of the disease were more likely to have cognitive decline and related vascular changes in the brain. For the study, lead author Dr Mary Haan, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and colleagues, used data from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study and the Site Examination study, two sub-investigations of the Women's Health Initiative Clinical Trial of Hormone Therapy. The findings, which they report in the 14 March online issue of Neurology, suggest that a simple eye test could look for early signs of retinopathy, and serve as a marker for cognitive changes linked to vascular disease.