Protein slows Alzheimer's progression

13 February 2009

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Category: Research & medical benefits

alzheimer–brain–scan.jpgScientists using animals have discovered that a naturally occurring protein  administered to specific areas of the brain could slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease, caused by the  progressive degeneration and eventual death of brain cells - neurons. This study involved a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) responsible for supporting the survival of existing neurons and encouraging the growth and development of new neurons.

They used a range of animals including mice, rats and monkeys with induced, or naturally occurring, neuron degeneration. The test groups were injected with BDNF in the parts of the brain responsible for formation and consolidation of memories. All the animals in the test group got better at a variety of learning and memory tests. Their brain cells survived longer and made more connections.

This method is particularly promising as it acts directly on dying cells in the memory ‘circuits’ of the brain, preventing their death and improving their function. This means BDNF treatment could provide long-lasting protection against neurodegenerative diseases such as  Alzheimer’s Disease.

See the page on Alzheimer's research at AnimalResearch.info