Protein Discovery Brightens Alzheimer's Hopes
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, and most often it afflicts people over sixty-five. It’s one of the most familiar age-related illnesses. There is currently no cure for it, and since it’s a progressive ailment, it worsens with time and ends by killing the patient.
Symptoms begin with short-term memory loss, but as the disease takes a firm grip, confusion, irritability, aggression, mood swings and long-term memory loss are not uncommon. Average life expectancy after diagnosis with the disease is approximately seven years.
Now, Harvard scientists found a that a protein called RE1-Silence-Transcription factor (REST) is missing in Alzheimer’s patients. This protein is active during foetal brain development, but becomes dormant only to reactivate itself in middle-age to protect nerve cells from stressors. This reactivation doesn’t seem to be happening in Alzheimer’s patients, the researchers said. If the protein could be persuaded to reactivate, it could help in curing the disease, or at least delaying the onset by a significant time.
And so we march on, fighting senility and death.