Published on November 8, 2012 at 6:37 AM
When they compared the findings from these 50 genes among Alzheimer's patients, healthy patients, and primates (including chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys), the researchers discovered that in all but the Alzheimer's group, the number of the specific genes was tightly limited, with little difference in their number between individuals among each of the species, she explains. This implies that these genes are significant to normal brain functioning, and their strict regulation in healthy patients is compromised by Alzheimer's disease.
Exploring new pathways
Whether metabolic changes are a cause of the disease or merely a symptom remains a topic for future study. But the discovery of this connection is encouraging. "The correlation between metabolic gene expression and cognitive score in Alzheimer's patients is even higher than the correlation we see in medical literature between beta amyloid plaques - found in deposits in the brains of Alzheimer's patients - and cognitive score, pointing to a strong association between cognitive decline and an altered metabolism," Stempler says.
Next the researchers will try to identify biomarkers in the blood that are associated with these metabolic changes. They may lead to detection and information about the disease's progression with an easy and non-invasive blood test. And as their work advances, Stempler hopes to develop therapeutic strategies that are based around these alterations in the metabolic network to help Alzheimer's patients, such as medications that can re-introduce strict regulation over gene expression. They believe that the research is a promising direction for Alzheimer's research.
Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University