(CBS Local) — Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease that affect patients’ memories could be reversed, according to new research from MIT.
It could be possible to break down genetic blockades inside the brain that causes memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease, the study published in Cell Reports indicates.
Memory loss occurs when the HCAC2 enzyme compresses the brain’s memory genes until they are no longer useful. Once they are useless, forgetfulness occurs, and it becomes more difficult for individuals to form new memories.
Previous efforts to simply block HCAC2 have been difficult without impacting other HDAC enzymes, which can impact internal organs. But MIT’s research only affects harmful HCAC2 exclusively, without impacting the other HDAC enzymes. This accomplishment has never been achieved before.
The theory behind the MIT study has only been tested on mice so far, but lead author Li-Huei Tsai believes the technique could also successfully reverse human memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s.
“This is exciting because for the first time we have found a specific mechanism by which HDAC2 regulates synaptic gene expression,” Tsai said. “If we can remove the blockade by inhibiting HDAC2 activity or reducing HDAC2 levels, then we can restore expression of all these genes necessary for learning and memory.”
Tsai’s experiment worked by blocking the enzyme by using LED lights in December. The light prevented it from binding with a genetic binding partner that facilitates genetic blockades from forming, and thus potentially curbing memory loss.
The MIT researchers said their work is still within its early stages, and it will likely take a while to discover a cure to Alzheimer’s.
But this study still marks the most significant research to date for finding anything close to a cure for Alzheimer’s.