December 26, 2016
Recently, researchers used a viral vector to import a specific gene into the brain, preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease in mice.
The team used an improved virus to transmit a gene called PGC1 to brain cells. This gene by gene synthesis prevents the formation of a beta amyloid protein in the cell in the laboratory.
Beta amyloid protein is a major component of amyloid plaques and is a protein found in the brain of Alzheimer's patients. These plaques are thought to trigger the death of brain cells.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's disease include loss of memory, confusion or change in mood or character. Worldwide, 47.50 million people are affected by dementia, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease, the current drugs can only help alleviate the symptoms of the disease.
Although these findings were premature, they pointed that the gene therapy might have potential therapeutic use for patients. There are many obstacles to overcome, the only way is to pass the gene directly to the brain by injection. However, this concept study suggests that this approach also requires further investigation.
The Improved viruses used in the experiment are called lentiviral particles, which is used for gene therapy. Scientists used lentivirus to infect cells, producing a modified virus to bring the gene into a specific cell.
In this new study, the team injected virus containing gene PGC-1 alpha into two brain regions of Alzheimer's disease mice. The target area is the hippocampus and the cortex, because these areas are the regions that form amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease.
Hippocampal damage can affect short-term memory and cause a person to forget recent events such as a conversation or what they eat for breakfast. The hippocampus is also responsible for positioning, and its damage can cause a person do not know the familiar route, such as driving home from a store. At the same time, the cortex is responsible for long-term memory, like reasoning, thinking and emotions. Cortical damage may lead to depressive symptoms, such as depression, how to dress or how to cook a familiar dish.
There is no treatment that can prevent the progression of Alzheimer's disease, so research like this is very important, and it is expected to find new and innovative ways to do so.