UCSD Researchers ID Gene That Could Prevent Brain Diseases - NBC 7 San Diego

UCSD Researchers ID Gene That Could Prevent Brain Diseases

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    Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is used in the diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases. The red colour shows maximum, healthy blood flow, the yellow-green indicates less blood flow whilst dark green and purple-blue areas indicate no flow.

    Researchers in San Diego have identified a gene that may be able to stop the accumulation of protein deposits in the brain, a factor in developing brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

    It’s long been believed that protein deposits in the brain cause a series of events that lead to dementia.

    However, there is no test to determine if someone has dementia or the leading type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease.

    Ten years ago, UC San Diego Professor Susan Ackerman and her colleagues first showed how cells not sending proper genetic information to proteins can create abnormal collections of the proteins on the brain.

    Now, Ackerman and researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have identified Ankrd16 as a gene that prevents protein from gathering.

    In the May 16 release of the journal Nature, the research team describe Ankrd16 as “…a new layer of the machinery essential for preventing severe pathologies that arise from defects in proofreading.”

    Proofreading is the process of cells correcting mutations.

    According to the research, adding more Ankrd16 protects nerve cells from dying while removing the gene caused “widespread buildup of abnormal proteins and ultimately neuronal death.”

    What is still a mystery – why the protein deposits occur.

    Researchers hope this new discovery will lead to understanding the development of dementia.

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