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Alzheimer's treatment - protein which prevents cell death identified

Written by Poorva Chavan |Published : January 15, 2015 11:07 AM IST

Brain wasting diseases like Alzheimer's have still not found a cure but a group of scientists have found a mechanism that prevents the loss of brain cells when the body is cooled, which could give a lead in searching methods to treat Alzheimer s. The researchers simulated the effects of body cooling in mice and then chose to study the cold shock proteins which have been linked previously with preventing brain cell death. (Read: Alzheimer's is no more an old-age condition)

DNA reported, Giovanna Mallucci the lead researcher, saying, We've known for some time that cooling can slow down or even prevent damage to brain cells, but reducing body temperature is rarely feasible in practice (because) it's unpleasant and involves risks such as pneumonia and blood clots, By identifying how cooling activates a process that prevents the loss of brain cells, we can now work towards finding a means to develop drugs that might mimic the protective effects of cold on the brain.

Lowering body temperatures is known to prevent brain damage. Even when animals hibernate, the production of cold shock proteins is triggered. One of these proteins called RBM3 prevents cell death and synapses but scientists are not sure how they works. If scientists can find out how this mechanism works, it would give a way to finding out how to trigger them without cooling down the body.(Read: Nasal insulin spray may treat Alzheimer's disease)

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The study was carried out by experimenting with healthy mice and mice that had been specifically bred with features if neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer s. The scientists cooled down the body temperatures of healthy mice to 16-18 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes and found that the synapses dismantle on cooling and regenerate on warming. The specially bred mice were also given a similar treatment and it was found that synapse generation was impaired as the disease progressed and the RBM3 levels also dropped. On boosting the levels of this protein it was observed that it protected brain and prevented synapse and brain cell depletion. (Read:Early stage of Alzheimer's can be screen with virtual reality game)

Image source: Getty Images

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