Israeli Researchers Identify New Protein Activity Linked To Alzheimer’s

In the  ongoing fight against Alzheimer’s disease, researchers from Isreal’s University of Haifa have recently made a discovery that may have a significant impact on the debilitating disorder is treated in the future.

Alzheimer’s and the Creation of New Memories

As published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the Haifa researchers found that an enzyme called PERK play a significant role in how the cognitive process is affected by disorders that impact memory such as Alzheimer’s. The PERK enzyme is responsible for dictating the rate at which proteins in the brain synthesize in order to create new memories. The researchers determined that long-term metabolic stress created by memory disorders like Alzheimer’s negative effects the production of PERK. “When a cell faces such metabolic stress, it is logical that it will reduce its activity level in order to survive. The problem is that this stress is chronic and leads to impairment of cognitive functioning,” noted Haifa researcher Yifat Segev.

A New Way to Treat Dementia

In addition to gaining a new understanding of the function of PERK, the Haifa researchers found that they could change the way PERK operates without causing any neurological damage to the mice they were working on. As a result of the changes they made to the enzyme, researchers found the memory of their test subjects was improved by 30 percent. Professor Kobi Rosenblum, another one of the study’s authors, summed up the incredible potential of the study. “We have not only deepened our understanding of these processes, but we have also managed to show that it is possible to cause cognitive improvement in an Alzheimer’s model.”

New Reasons to Be Hopeful

Although Alzheimer’s now afflicts more than five million people worldwide, there are no currently no treatment options for the disease that reverse its deleterious effects. However, based on the positive findings made by the University of Haifa, it may be possible to not only stop the progression of illnesses like Alzheimer’s  and various other forms of dementia, but also to repair the damage they inflict. Along with recent breakthroughs involve what might be a possible vaccine for Alzheimer’s  and a sequence of genes that may delay the onset of dementia of up to 17 years, those suffering from a chronic neurodegenerative disease now have many new reasons to be hopeful about the future.