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[Study] Could A Unique Protein Reduce The Development Of Alzheimer’s?

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Image: The Papyrus

Every 67 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.1 An irreversible neurodegenerative disease and the most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s is typically characterized by progressive memory loss; including anything from short-term, newly learned information to childhood memories. For some families, caring for someone who has an illness like Alzheimer’s can be a lot to deal with, so it comes as no surprise to find that the option of putting their loved one into a Hospice Cincinnati care facility may be the next step to help them get the care and attention they deserve.

But a new study has led researchers at Harvard to believe that there might be more light at the end of the tunnel; and a potential answer to the Alzheimer’s conundrum. A unique protein, known as REST (repressor element 1-silencing transcription),2 is present during the beginning stages of brain development. It functions as a regulator, or a switch, that turns specific genes on and off. This is why people suffering from the disease require mobility support, it is definitely something that is needed for the elderly more often than not. Research revealed that for most adults, that protein may turn back on later in life; potentially defending the brain against the stressors of development, slowing the degeneration of neurons, and switching off genes that ultimately promote cell death and lead to Alzheimer’s.

And interestingly, for those with Alzheimer’s disease, REST was found to be notably absent from various brain regions.3

This key piece of information could help scientists develop drugs that intervene with the illness in its early stages. If successful, the toxicity of Alzheimer’s might be caught before it continues to progress and spread throughout the brain, leading to slower development of the disease. There is a lot of research going into creating treatments for Alzheimer’s and even more has gone into trying to find a cure for this disease. One of these treatments is medical marijuana which has been argued may have the components needed to either suppress or treat the main factors of Alzheimer’s- Click here to learn more.

“Since Alzheimer’s strikes late in life, delaying the onset of disease by just a few years could have a very substantial impact.” – Bruce Yankner, Harvard Medical School4

While it is not a cure, this preliminary finding in the intricate and complex world of dementia has major potential. Knowing that a healthy brain should show significant levels of REST could lead scientists to conduct further research – adding a stepping stone to eventual treatments and a potential cure for Alzheimer’s.

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  1. Alzheimer’s Association []
  2. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science []
  3. International Weekly Journal of Science []
  4. HuffingtonPost – Landmark Alzheimer’s Study Pinpoints Protein That Protects Aging Brain []
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