Study of gene-deficient mice experiencing memory loss sheds light on dementia


When a person experiences dementia or Alzheimer’s, their most cherished mental capabilities begin to fade away.

When I work with caregivers and family members of those who have dementia, I remind them that dementia, sadly, is something we cannot stop, fix or change.

Medicine and technology is not quite there yet — but there is hope. There’s hope by the way we care for those with dementia. There is hope in study after study that widens the spotlight on our knowledge of this unforgivable disease.

Dementia arises from the result of brain cell death. This is known. What is unclear, however, is what triggers this devastating process.

A new study is providing some insights.

In Alzheimer’s, brain cell death can be partly associated to a protein. Tau, a protein, can begin to create tangles that disrupt the cells’ transporting network, which in turn prevents them from taking in necessary nutrients. When this happens, they begin to lose life.

Scientists conducting research on another topic began to delete the LSD1 gene from adult mice. The team of scientists discovered that deleting LSD1 triggered nerve cell death in parts of the brain, leading to paralysis and learning/memory problems in the mice.

LSD1 accrued in the tau tangles of Alzheimer’s patients and those with an aggressive form of dementia.

LSD1 is normally localized in the nucleus and this understanding provides clues into how it may be linked to neurodegeneration, according to a scientist with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Put another way: There may be a link between the loss of LSD1 and human dementia cases.

These studies provide hope for a future in which dementia can be detected earlier, prevented or possibly cured. We don’t know how far away we are, but we do know that with each study and each day we care for our loved ones, there is more and more hope before us.

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