Alzheimer's Reversal: Is This Genetic Discovery The Medical Miracle We Need?
An MIT research team has pinpointed the exact gene responsible for memory recovery and restoration in mice with Alzheimer's disease: the HDAC2 gene. Remember that gene, because it is one of the major genes responsible for brain plasticity, and now it is thought that drugs that target the HDAC2 gene may help Alzheimer's patients reverse long term memory loss and regain the ability to learn new things. It worked on mice.
Two years ago, researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory celebrated a breakthrough when they were able to reverse symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, specifically long term memory and learning ability, in mice by treating them with histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs). Histone deacetylase enzymes -- HDACs -- are a family of 11 enzymes that act as regulators of gene expression.
The researchers saw that the HSIs worked, but needed to know precisely what gene the HSIs were affecting in reversing the Alzheimer's-like symptoms in the mice. Led by Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience, they continued their study.
"Harnessing the therapeutic potential of HDAC inhibitors requires knowledge of the specific HDAC family member or members linked to cognitive enhancement," Tsai said. "We have now identified HDAC2 as the most likely target of the HDAC inhibitors that facilitate synaptic plasticity and memory formation.
"It brings about long-lasting changes in how other genes are expressed, which is probably necessary to increase numbers of synapses and restructure neural circuits, thereby enhancing memory," she said.
HDIs are also being tested for cancer treatment and in mouse models of Huntington's disease. With knowledge that the restorative memory HDIs were targeting HDAC2, even more targeted HDI's can be developed and tested to reverse symptoms of Alzheimer's, eventually for human Alzheimer's patients.
Wouldn't that be a medical miracle?
Keeping you posted...