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Longevity Briefs: Scientists discover new molecular driver of Alzheimer’s

Posted on 21 January 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a neurological condition which sees the degradation of cognitive ability to a senile state, eventually resulting in death. In the UK alone there are currently 850,000 people living with some form of dementia, this is predicted to rise to over 2 million people by 2050. Alzheimer’s is characterised by shrinkage of the brain.

What did the researchers do: In a bid to uncover more about the genesis of Alzheimer’s disease, a team led by Dr. Shelley Berger of the University of Pennsylvania, USA, analysed post-mortem human brains of Alzheimer’s victims. The researchers used a multi-omics approach to try to identify the molecular causes of the condition.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The analysis revealed that epigenetic modifications, H3K27ac and H3K9ac, were significantly upregulated in Alzheimer’s disease tissue samples. Epigenetic modifications are changes to the biochemical mechanisms that control the regulation of gene expression, otherwise known as the epigenome.

The study also showed that increasing these epigenetic modifications in the genome of flies leads to an exacerbated Alzheimer’s phenotype.

The investigation indicates that H3K27ac and H3K9ac are important epigenetic drivers of Alzheimer’s disease which present potential targets for therapeutics.

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