Investigators discover a new approach to Alzheimer's

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One common symptom of Alzheimer's is the steady erosion of declarative memory, which people rely on to recall faces, places and facts. Now a group of investigators at Mount Sinai are reporting in Nature that they've found a molecule--IGF-II--that can amp up that particular segment of memory, pointing the way to a potentially effective treatment for dementia.

Tested in rats, the scientists say that they were able to either improve their memory with the molecule or make it worse by inhibiting IGF-II. As the molecule already occurs naturally in the brain, and can cross the blood-brain barrier, the researchers hope that they can translate their work in rats to humans, where dementia remains one of the highest unmet medical needs in drug development today.

Professor Cristina Alberini, the senior author, notes that this study is part of a wide range of work being done to determine how proteins and molecules affect memory. "The more we know, the more we're going to uncover what are the steps that make memory strong," she told the Wall Street Journal. "Then we'll get ideas for other [molecular] targets."

- here's the WSJ story

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