Research identifies novel steps in dementia progression

March 23, 2015, University of York
Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheimer's Disease. Credit: Wikipedia/public domain.

Research by biologists at the University of York has identified new mechanisms potentially driving progression of an aggressive form of dementia.

The research, which was funded by Alzheimer's Society and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is published today in The Journal of Cell Biology.

Working with scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and University of Puerto Rico, the researchers studied how synapses - the connections between - are affected by changes in the protein CHMP2B that are linked to Frontotemporal Dementia. They uncovered mechanisms that controlled growth in synapses causing them to overgrow. These signals are normally involved in immune reactions and have not been seen to function in synapse growth previously.

Frontotemporal Dementia is one of the most common forms of that typically starts in individuals in their fifties. It affects the ability to use and understand language in addition to a change in personality and a loss of inhibition in some social behaviours. This is caused by the loss of neurons in the frontal and of the brain.

Initial laboratory research into the effects of CHMP2B was carried out using Drosophila, a species of fruit fly, and findings were confirmed in mammalian neurons. This work identifies novel steps in that could potentially be targeted by drugs to halt cognitive decline.

The senior author Dr Sean Sweeney, of the Department of Biology, University of York, said: "These findings shed light on the events occurring in neurons as takes hold. The more we know about the steps that occur in disease progression, the more opportunities we have to intervene with potential therapies."

The lead author, Dr Ryan West added: ''We hope that this work helps to tease apart complex molecular processes occurring in neurons and identify how these can go wrong in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Frontotemporal Dementia."

Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer's Society said: "We know less about the underlying causes of than some other kinds of dementia so research like this is a vital step towards developing treatments for the condition. Further research will be needed to determine whether this mechanism plays a similar role in humans.

"Alzheimer's Society is dedicated to supporting and training new scientific talent like Ryan to generate novel research ideas that will help us find the answers to all types of dementia."

Explore further: Patient stem cells used to make dementia-in-a-dish; help identify new treatment strategy

Related Stories

Patient stem cells used to make dementia-in-a-dish; help identify new treatment strategy

December 31, 2014
Belgian researchers have identified a new strategy for treating an inherited form of dementia after attempting to turn stem cells derived from patients into the neurons most affected by the disease. In patient-derived stem ...

RNA build-up linked to dementia and motor neuron disease

October 30, 2013
A new toxic entity associated with genetically inherited forms of dementia and motor neuron disease has been identified by scientists at the UCL Institute of Neurology. The toxin is the result of a genetic mutation that leads ...

Depression, behavioral changes may precede memory loss in Alzheimer's

January 14, 2015
Depression and behavioral changes may occur before memory declines in people who will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Retinal thinning can be used as an early marker for frontotemporal dementia

August 25, 2014
Researchers at the Gladstone Institutes and University of California, San Francisco have shown that a loss of cells in the retina is one of the earliest signs of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in people with a genetic risk ...

Researchers uncover toxic interaction in neurons that leads to dementia and ALS

December 10, 2012
Researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida have uncovered a toxic cellular process by which a protein that maintains the health of neurons becomes deficient and can lead to dementia. The findings shed new light on the link between ...

Drugs used for impotence could treat vascular dementia?

December 11, 2014
Scientists are to explore whether drugs usually used to treat erectile problems by expanding blood vessels could become the next major way to tackle the dementia epidemic.

Recommended for you

A new way of thinking about tau kinetics, an essential component of Alzheimer's disease

March 21, 2018
Alzheimer's disease is most often characterized by two different pathologies in the brain: plaque deposits of a protein called beta-amyloid and tangles of another protein called tau. A paper appearing March 21 in the journal ...

Could drugs used after an organ transplant protect against Alzheimer's?

March 21, 2018
A UT Southwestern study in mice provides new clues about how a class of anti-rejection drugs used after organ transplants may also slow the progression of early-stage Alzheimer's disease.

Cell therapy could improve brain function for Alzheimer's disease

March 15, 2018
Like a great orchestra, your brain relies on the perfect coordination of many elements to function properly. And if one of those elements is out of sync, it affects the entire ensemble. In Alzheimer's disease, for instance, ...

Physically fit women nearly 90 percent less likely to develop dementia

March 14, 2018
Women with high physical fitness at middle age were nearly 90 percent less likely to develop dementia decades later, compared to women who were moderately fit, according to a study published the March 14, 2018, online issue ...

Poor sleep may heighten Alzheimer's risk

March 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Older adults who are sleepy during the day might have harmful plaque building in their brain that is a sign of impending Alzheimer's disease, researchers report.

Dementia patients with distorted memories may actually retain key information – researchers say

March 7, 2018
Some memories containing inaccurate information can be beneficial to dementia sufferers because it enables them to retain key information researchers say.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.