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A protein that suppresses cell division in brain cells has been found to halt the dementia triggered by Alzheimer’s disease, new research has found.
The discovery could open the door to new ways of treating the degenerative brain disease, which affects up to half the population over the age of 85.
The study by Professor Karl Herrup of Rutgers University and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University, both in the US, looked at a protein family known as cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK) which power the cell cycle.
The scientists focused on one particular kinase – CDK5 – which did not appear to propel the cell cycle.
While it appears to be inert as a cell cycle promoter, when introduced into the nervous system CDK5 actually works to hold the cell cycle stable.
“Its mere presence helps protect the brain,” Professor Herrup said. “What we discovered is that CDK5 acts as a brake, not a driver.”
The researchers reported their findings in the latest issue of the US publication Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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