Understanding Alzheimer’s through a key gene
Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have made an exciting discovery that could help us better understand Alzheimer’s disease.
The team focused on a specific gene that plays a large role in the brain’s immune system.
By studying this gene closely, they found certain changes or mutations that could either increase or decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
What the researchers did
For this groundbreaking research, experts from Indiana University have joined forces at the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute.
Their study, led by Andy Tsai, now at Stanford University, was published in the journal Immunity.
The team focused on a gene called phospholipase C gamma 2 (PLCG2), which is important for the brain’s immune cells called microglia.
They found that a specific change in the gene, called the M28L variant, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Another change, the so-called P522R variant, appeared to protect against the disease.
They tested these findings using special mouse models designed to mimic Alzheimer’s disease.
What they found was really interesting: The mice with the protective gene change had fewer harmful brain plaques than those with the risk-increasing gene change.
Brain plaques are protein clumps commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and are thought to contribute to the disease.
Why it matters: A new path to targeted treatments
Gary Landreth, one of the lead researchers, emphasized that these immune cells in the brain influence our ability to learn and form new memories.
“The microglial response affects neurons, which then affects the ability to learn and form new memories,” he said.
This is big news because it expands our knowledge of how Alzheimer’s disease works. In addition, it opens the door to new treatment methods.
Once researchers understand how these gene changes affect the disease, they can begin work on targeted therapies to treat or even prevent Alzheimer’s.
“We used human genetics to study and identify a mechanism, and we actually have it,” Landreth said, emphasizing how unique and special their teamwork was.
The TREAT-AD Center is already studying how these discoveries can be translated into real-world treatments.
This research marks an important step in the ongoing fight against Alzheimer’s. By delving deep into our genes, these scientists are helping pave the way for a future in which Alzheimer’s could be a thing of the past.
If you are interested in Alzheimer’s disease, please read Studies on the cause of Alzheimer’s: Could a small worm and a diabetes drug solve the case? and Findings: Even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with faster Alzheimer’s development.
For more information on brain health, see recent studies Cranberries could help boost memoryAnd These antioxidants could help reduce the risk of dementia.
The research results can be found in immunity.
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