- Dementia is a chronic or progressive brain illness which affects memory, thinking and behavior.
- New molecular pathway in the brain was discovered by a research team from Rutgers University.
- Understanding the molecular pathways may help to identify drug therapies to prevent dementia.
New molecular pathway in the brain was discovered by a research team from Rutgers University to provide solutions for long-term memory problems in the elderly patients. The discovery was found to help in identifying drug-based therapies to prevent dementia.
Dementia is a chronic or progressive brain illness that affects memory, learning, thinking or behavior. Around 47.5 million people in the world are estimated to be living with dementia.
‘Novel molecular pathways in the brain may identify drug therapies to prevent dementia.’
Gleb Shumyatsky, associate professor in the Department of Genetics in the School of Arts and Sciences, said, "Memory decline brings much suffering to the affected individuals and their families and leads to staggering social and economic costs."
"This work may provide scientists with answers and therapeutic help in the future for those going through normal aging or suffering from dementia."
The research study was published in the journal Cell Reports.
The study was mainly found to focus on the signaling pathways in the hippocampus (part of the brain where learning and memory takes place).
The research team were finding out how information was transmitted and communicated from one neuron to the other. They were able to find a protein called CRTC1 (CREB-regulated transcription coactivator 1 (CRTC1) which enhances memory by controlling gene expression in laboratory mice.
Gene expression is a process which allows the cell to respond to changing environment in the body and acts as both an on and off switch which controls the proteins that are made and controls the levels when they are released.
Shumyatsky, said, "There is a potential that this could help with memory in the human brain."
"We found that the longer the CRTC1 stays in the mouse brain, the stronger the memory."
Benefits of CRTC1 Protein:
- By using two behavioral patterns which include fear conditioning and object location learning, the research team were able to find that the mice that received a longer period of training was found to show a higher activity of the CRTC1 protein, stronger gene transcription, more robust and long-term memory.
- CRTCI protein activated the FGF1 gene which controls the brain cell functions, growth and survival, they are essential for tissue maintenance, repair and regeneration.
- Activated FGF1 gene is also linked with the intensity of learning and enhancing memory power.
Declining memory power is manifested more severely in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and mainly occurs due to breakdown of brain's communication network that is critical for cognitive function.
Understanding the molecular pathways in the brain may help to find better treatment for humans. Even though the study was carried in mouse brain they are found to be very much same as the human brain.
"Our group has been unraveling molecular mechanisms that maintain and improve memory, and what our research tells us is that there are different answers to controlling and improving memory." Shumyatsky said.
- Dementia is caused when there is a damage to the brain cells.
- It is not only associated with memory loss but also includes changes in the behavior, confusions, problems in communication and hallucinations.
- Number of newly diagnosed dementia cases every year is found to be 7.7 million people in the world.
- Women are more than twice likely than men to be affected with dementia.
- There is no cure for dementia. Treatment may help patients to improve symptoms and lead a better life.
- Shusaku Uchida, Brett J.W. Teubner, Charles Hevi, Kumiko Hara, Ayumi Kobayashi, Rutu M. Dave, Tatsushi Shintaku, Pattaporn Jaikhan, Hirotaka Yamagata, Takayoshi Suzuki, Yoshifumi Watanabe, Stanislav S. Zakharenko, Gleb P. Shumyatsky. CRTC1 Nuclear Translocation Following Learning Modulates Memory Strength via Exchange of Chromatin Remodeling Complexes on the Fgf1 Gene. Cell Reports, 2017; 18 (2): 352 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.12.052
- What Is Dementia?
- 10 facts on dementia - (http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/dementia/en/)
- 10 things you need to know about dementia - (http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/facts-stats/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-dementia/ )