A gene that was previously thought to be involved in aging has been now connected to Alzheimer's disease too.
MIT biology professor Leonard Guarente and his colleagues showed that in mice engineered to develop Alzheimer's plaques and symptoms, learning and memory deficits were improved when SIRT1 was overproduced in the brain, and exacerbated when SIRT1 was deleted.
Targeting the gene could be a promising strategy to combat Alzheimer's, says Guarente.
Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which causes memory loss and other cognitive impairments.
The SIRT1 gene, which produces proteins called sirtuins, has previously been shown to regulate many cell activities, especially those involved in stress response and calorie deprivation.
Guarente first drew attention to sirtuins about 15 years ago when he discovered that the yeast version of the gene, SIR2, regulates longevity in yeast.
Later work revealed similar effects in worms, mice and rats.
The results are reported in the July 23 issue of the journal Cell.