The illnesses of old age are possibly something many of us have experience with, as family members have developed them. Alzheimer's is perhaps one of the better known and more destructive of these illnesses. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have recently discovered a protein that connects two steps that lead to Alzheimer's.
Through years of work, scientists have managed to create a partial molecular map for the path Alzheimer's takes to destroy brain cells. One of the missing parts was concerned with how a coupling of a peptide with a prion would lead to the activation of a messenger molecule called Fyn. The Yale researchers have found that a protein called metabotropic glutamate receptor 5, or mGluR5, is involved in that process. By blocking it in mice with brain damage similar to that caused by Alzheimer's, the researchers found that the mice recovered their deficits in memory, learning, and synapse density.
As it happens, the drug used to block mGluR5 is similar to one in development for Fragile X syndrome, though a new drug will likely have to be created specifically for treating Alzheimer's. Once found though, a great many individuals and families could find relief from this devastating disease.
Source: Yale University