Published on: August 22, 2012
by UQ News:
Size really does matter according to scientists looking for ways to cure Alzheimer’s disease.
Research conducted by scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at The University of Queensland (UQ) and Harvard University, has led to the discovery that treatment for Alzheimer’s disease may lie in modifying the length of subcellular structures in the brain responsible for metabolising energy, mitochondria.
The study found in cases where the mitochondria were abnormally long, they had a toxic effect inducing cell death.
Director, Centre for Ageing Dementia Research (CADR) at QBI and co-author of the paper, Professor Jürgen Götz, said:
“Alzheimer’s disease belongs to a group of neurodegenerative diseases termed ‘tauopathies’, charaterised by clumps of the protein tau inside neurons.
“In instances where neurons express toxic levels of human tau, the mitochondria are elongated.
“All cells rely on mitochondria for energy metabolism, and neurons in particular, so controlling the length of these subcellular structures is very important for brain function.”
The research provides novel targets for therapeutic intervention.
“Treatments currently available for these diseases have at most modest effects, in part due to our limited understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease starts and progresses,” Professor Götz said.
The good news is, genetic and drug interventions aimed at reducing mitochondrial length reverse the toxic effects of tau, and can now get underway.
“An aspect of mitochondrial regulation that is being increasingly appreciated are changes in size and shape of the organelle, through a process termed ‘mitochondrial dynamics’,” Professor Götz said.
Alzheimer’s disease affects almost 280,000 Australians. This number grows by 1,600 each week and is expected to reach over 1 million people by 2050 .
In a new study, University of Nebraska–Lincoln sociologist Marc A. Garcia explored how educational attainment can benefit cognitive health in later life, and whether there are differences in its benefits among minorities. Garcia and his co-authors...
A genetic variation in some people may be associated with cognitive decline that can’t be explained by deposits of two key proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid β and tau, according to a study...
As 2020 drags on and the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, the number of people reporting mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and stress, has skyrocketed. According to recent data, symptoms of anxiety and...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.