Alzheimer’s disease is infamous for its devastating impact on memory, bringing significant mental and emotional stress to patients and their families. But scientists at the University of Buffalo believe they’re one step closer to reversing memory loss.
Research published Wednesday in the journal Brain shows a possible solution by focusing on the emerging field of neurobiology called epigenetics.
“The epigenetic process is like a switch — it can switch genes on or switch genes off,” Dr. Zhen Yan, senior study author and professor in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, tells The Post.
“During the aging process … some genes need to be turned on, and some turned off.” When there are abnormalities in epigenetic processes, says Yan, “you [may] have an over-expression of harmful genes or the loss of the useful genes.”
Yan’s team studied mice with genetic markers for Alzheimer’s, as well as brain tissue from deceased patients. In both mice and human brain tissue, scientists discovered a drop in receptors for glutamate, a neurotransmitter in the brain necessary for both learning and short-term memory retention. The researchers attribute this loss to an “elevation” of proteins responsible for suppressing glutamate receptor maintenance, otherwise known as repressive histone modifiers.
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SOURCE: NY Post, Hannah Sparks