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New Alzheimer’s Treatments made Possible by Novel Study

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have identified the role of an enzyme which helps control brain activity. The findings, published in the renowned journal Nature Neuroscience, may pave the way for new treatments for Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.

The scientists analysed the behaviour of brain cells during periods of peak mental activity, identified by an increase in electrical signals between neurons. They found that the flow of chemical messages between neurons was reduced by an enzyme known as GSK3. Thus, by suppressing the effect of this enzyme, brain cells could communicate more quickly when, for example, forming new memories and this would slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Similarly, drugs could be used to increase the enzyme’s effect in order to relieve epileptic seizures by slowing down mental activity.

However, the enzyme is involved in many brain and body functions and the team are cautious about manipulating it without fully understanding the effects. More research is needed, but they remain optimistic.

The University’s Dr Mike Cousin, who led the research team, said “Until now, we understood that this enzyme was important to brain cell function, but we did not fully appreciate why. This study shows that GSK3 plays a crucial part in controlling brain function during peak activity. The development of drugs to act on the enzyme could make a real difference to the lives of people with brain disorders.”

Danny McLaughlin

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