Scientists find new way to prevent dementia

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Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with everyday activities.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal aging.

In a study from The University of Queensland, scientists found the clean-up of cellular “protein clumps” could prevent the onset of some types of dementia.

They made the discovery after focusing on the relationship between the enzyme Fyn and the protein Tau in frontotemporal dementia.

The team found that Fyn, an important player in learning and memory, became highly active when it is immobilized within the synapses which are the connection hubs between neurons where neuronal communication takes place.

The researchers found that when these enzymes become activated, they change to an opened structure (like a flower that blossoms) and slow down their movement, grouping together to form clusters or clumps of proteins, before refolding and dispersing to start their cycle again.

Normally, this process occurs naturally thousands of times at the synapses between neurons and is necessary to maintain neuronal communication, which is the basis of learning and memory.

The research follows the team’s earlier work, where they discovered Tau impacted a critical mechanism in memory function.

The association of Fyn and Tau is necessary for the progression of different forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia, and has been demonstrated by many laboratories around the world.

However, the precise molecular mechanisms behind this pathological interaction were not known.

In the study, the team found if formed at the neuronal synapses, these Tau droplets create the perfect trap for Fyn molecules, keeping them highly immobile and accentuating their clustering and activation for longer.

In frontotemporal dementia, Fyn stops more as it becomes stuck in this gel-like structure. The droplets of Tau, therefore, attract additional Fyn proteins at the synapse.

The team says Tau biomolecular condensates could hold the key to reverting this toxic chain reaction.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about heartburn drugs that could increase the risk of dementia, and loss of smell from COVID-19 may increase dementia risk.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that walking downstairs could help prevent dementia, and results showing these antioxidants could help reduce the risk of dementia.

The study was conducted by Professor Frederic Meunier et al and published in Molecular Psychiatry.

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