Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans with a new patient every 65 seconds. Patients of the progressive brain ailment gradually lose their memory and fail to concentrate or do anything independently.
Since there is no treatment plan for the condition so far, eventual death is the end result. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are ranked as the 6 leading cause of death in the US. Researchers are working round the clock to understand the condition and find a way to reverse the disease.
New Research Taps Into Epigenetics For Reversing Memory Decline
There has been extensive research on the genetic causes of Alzheimer’s disease, which focus on the alterations in the DNA genes. However, the latest study focuses on epigenetics instead of genetics.
Epigenetics relates to switching genes on and off without disturbing the DNA code. The findings, published in the journal Brain, showed that researchers were able to temporarily reverse memory loss in mouse models by changing epigenetic factors that caused memory loss.
Synapses And Their Role In Communication Of Brain Cells
One of the leading characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease is brain damage that is caused by the loss of synapses. These are the junctions between neurons or brain cells that help the cells communicate.
Signals from one cell pass to another by means of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that cross the gaps in synapses. For this communication to talk place effectively, your brain cells need a significant content of specialized proteins called as receptors.
One of the proteins is the glutamate receptor. This is critical for learning and short-term memory. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s, however, there is a substantial decline in thinking and memory skills. One of the chief reasons behind this is the loss of glutamate receptors.
However, multiple epigenetic mechanisms can switch the genes on and off. Hence, this action can lead to cells making more or less of a protein. In the light of this, the investigators of this study discovered an epigenetic mechanism type that causes a reduction in the glutamate receptors.
The researchers also learned that this mechanism causes a repressive histone modification. Evidence in mouse models of Alzheimer’s showed an increased repressive histone modification. This was also found in the postmortem tissues of individuals with the brain disorder.
The findings of this study show that there is potential for a new treatment. More research is needed in this regard to explore how epigenetics can help reverse memory loss, which is a leading symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.
So far, there are no treatment options for reversing the cognitive ailment. Whatever medicines are given are the ones that help manage the symptoms better, for instance, medications for handling anxiety and insomnia.
If you have a loved one or relative with Alzheimer’s, try to be caring toward him even if he is rude or doesn’t recognize you. Patients of the disease tend to get confused with what happens with their brains, therefore, they behave rudely.