Researchers at the European Neuroscience Institute, in Göttingen, studied a molecule called miR-34c in the brains of older mice and mice that had been bred to mimic Alzheimer’s. They found that in both sets of mice, there was more of the molecule in the hippocampus – a key area of the brain responsible for memory. When the researchers blocked miR-34c in mice, they found memory function was restored.
The scientists also studied brain samples from people, and found that people with Alzheimer’s had more miR-34c in the hippocampus than healthy older people, suggesting that the molecule may play a role in memory loss in human Alzheimer’s disease. They now want to study the molecule further, and hope that drugs that target miR-34c could help people with Alzheimer’s.
Their results are published online in EMBO Journal today.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“This could be an exciting new target for dementia scientists, and this research approach holds some promise in other disease research areas. Further studies building on the work with mice should tell us how valuable this molecule might be in protecting brain function in people. We are still in desperate need of an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, with current drugs only helping people with some symptoms.
“Understanding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease is vital for developing treatments that could really benefit people. Funding for dementia research lags far behind other diseases, and if we are to make the progress that’s so desperately needed, we must invest in research now.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK