Alzheimer's disease is a frightening battle for anyone to face, both those who suffer from it and the loved ones who support them. One of the many difficult symptoms of the disease is the loss of memory we associate with it. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports thatIsraeli scientists are working to improve memory in Alzheimer's patients by suppressing a protein with links to the disease:
Scientists from Israel report they have found a way to improve memory by manipulating PERK, a specific protein molecule known to function poorly in old age. PERK is known to be closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
"We know that in Alzheimer’s, PERK doesn't function properly,” said Prof. Kobi Rosenblum, who heads the University of Haifa lab in which the research was done. “Our success in manipulating its expression without causing any harm to the proper functioning of the brain paves the way for improving memory and perhaps even slowing the pathological development of diseases like Alzheimer’s..."
There was a clear correlation between memory function and the degree to which PERK was suppressed, too. The more efficiently PERK was suppressed, the better the memory function.
“The brain operates in a most sophisticated fashion, with each action closely linked to many other actions,” said Ounallah-Saad. “In our study we succeeded in maintaining control of the PERK such that it didn't influence the retrieval of existing memories, or do any other cognitive damage.”
Rosenblum explained that the study has proven it is possible to strengthen the process of protein synthesis in the brain and create stronger memories that last a long time.
“The moment we did this by manipulating a molecule that we know performs deficiently in people with Alzheimer’s and is linked to the aging process, we paved the way for the possible development of drugs that can slow the progress of incurable diseases like degenerative brain conditions, Alzheimer’s chief among them,” said Rosenblum.