A new study published by Tel Aviv University has provided promising news about a new possible way to detect Alzheimers Disease. The study allowed the researchers to identify a gene coding for a protein that turns off certain neurotransmitter signals. This is known to be a contributing factor for Alzheimers.
The gene that has been newly identified as being potentially helpful in being able to detect Alzheimers Disease is called RGS2 (Regulator of Protein Signaling 2). While the gene itself had already been identified, this is the first time it has been linked to this branch of dementia.
According to the researchers, the reason this may be able to help detect Alzheimers Disease is that patients with this disease have lower RGS2 expression within their cells. This boosts their sensitivity to amyloid- β’s toxic effects.
The outcomes of the study were published in the Translational Psychiatry journal. The hope is that they will help to provide new, simpler and more accurate methods of Alzheimer’s diagnosis. In fact, it may even have the potential to be used in a blood test that could help in detection.
Furthermore, by furthering research to understand this gene and its connection to the disease, it may one day lead to new therapies that could slow or even stop its progress.
Lead author in the study was Dr. David Gurwitz from the Tel Aviv University Department of Human Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at the Sackler School of Medicine. Dr. Gurwitz worked with co-author Professor Illana Gozes, the incumbent of the Lily Avraham Gildor Chair for the Investigation of Growth Factors, as well as being the Elton Laboratory for Molecular Neuroendocrinology head at the Sackler School of Medicine and is a member of the Adams Super Center for Brain Studies at Tel Aviv University.
This research is quite different from other examinations of Alzheimer’s Disease. Previously, the main focus has been on the two primary signs of this disease. More recently, science has started to look beyond amyloid-β plaques, as they have been found to be commonly present in older brains that are perfectly healthy. Therefore, researchers have been forced to start to look elsewhere in order to not only better understand the disease, but also its signs and potential treatments.
There are now a number of genes, including RGS2 that are implicated in Alzheimers. The more they are studied, the better equipped doctors will be to spot the disease at an earlier phase and, hopefully, stop its progression in its tracks.