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Gene therapy promising for Alzheimer’s treatment

A recent study linking Alzheimer’s disease with the repression of gene activity in the brain is a promising development in potential treatment of the disease, according to a recent news release by the National Institutes of Health.

“These findings provide a glimpse of the brain shutting down the ability to form new memories gene by gene in Alzheimer’s disease, and offer hope that we may be able to counteract this process,” said Roderick Corriveau, Ph.D., a program director at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which helped fund the research.

According to the NIH, researchers found that a protein called histone deacetylase 2 (HDAC2) accumulates in the brain early in the course of Alzheimer’s disease. HDAC2 is known to tighten up spools of DNA, effectively locking down the genes within and reducing their activity.

In the mice, the increase in HDAC2 appears to produce a blockade of genes involved in learning and memory. Preventing the build-up of HDAC2 protected the mice from memory loss.
Use of a gene therapy approach to reduce the levels of HDAC2 prevented the blockade of gene activity. The treatment also prevented learning and memory impairments in the mice.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older adults, and affects as many as 5.1 million Americans. In the most common type of Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms usually appear after age 65.

See the news release here:
http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2012/ninds-29.htm