Discovery of Mutating Gene to Help In Alzheimer’s

Discovery of Mutating Gene to Help In Alzheimer’sScientists at the Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, have found brain cells alter their genetic make-up at different stages during a person's lifetime. Retrotransposons are the genes that are responsible for the many small changes in the DNA of the brain tissue.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature, reported that these genes were active in places associated with cell renewal. Scientists could single out mutations that cause this change in brain function and that may cause diseases to develop by mapping the locations of these genes in the human genome.

This is the first study to establish that brain cells are genetically very different from other cells. Not only are they different from other cells in the body, but they are also different from other cells in the brain.

On the basis of this study, scientists are trying to find out whether the formations of brain tumor and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s are linked to the changes that occur in the retrotransposons.

Dr. Geoff Faulkner says, “If we can understand better how these subtle genetic changes occur we could shed light on how brain cells regenerate, how processes like memory formation may have a genetic basis and possibly link the activity of these genes to brain diseases”.

The result from the study goes against the conventional belief that the genetic makeup of the brain remains the same throughout the life of an individual. This study has also opened up new vistas of research into the genetics of the brain.

The research was carried out in collaboration with scientists from Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Japan and the United States, and was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council.