AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 2, 2017

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Scripps Florida Scientists Uncover Potential Driver of Age- and Alzheimer's-related Memory Loss

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Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have made an important discovery toward the development of drugs to treat age-related memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer’s. They found that reduced levels of a protein called Rheb result in spontaneous symptoms of memory loss in animal models and are linked to increased levels of another protein known to be elevated in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. In the new study, Subramaniam’s group investigated the link between Rheb and an important enzyme called BACE1, which is elevated in older adults and people with Alzheimer’s disease. “We know that Rheb regulates BACE1, which is a major drug target in Alzheimer’s disease,” Subramaniam said. “Studies of the autopsied brains of Alzheimer’s patients have found a significant reduction in Rheb, so it is possible that an increase in Rheb could revers the buildup of amyloid plaque or help reduce or even revers age-related memory loss.” To uncover the impact of eliminating Rheb, Subramaniam and his colleagues put genetically altered mice through a battery of behavior tests beginning at around six months of age.

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