It’s no secret that memory declines as age advances, but until now, there seemed to be little man could do to reverse the process. According to an August 28, NBC News report, help may be on the way. A study led by Dr. Eric Kandel of Columbia University in New York has revealed that normal, age-related memory loss is not due to dying brain cells, but is instead the result of a gene RbAp48 becoming less active.
Two separate studies, one involving studying the brains of the deceased ages 33 to 88 who died without any signs of brain disease, and the second involving the brains of those ranging from 41 to 89, revealed that gene RbAp48 was more active in younger brains and declined as the subjects aged.
When studies in mice revealed the same findings, the research team genetically modified the cells in the mice’s brains to activate the RbAp48 gene. These mice regained memory and performed memory and maze tasks similar to much younger mice.
The team is hopeful that turning on the RbAp48 gene in humans will produce similar results and restore failing memory. Although Kandel isn’t looking towards gene therapy in humans, he is hopeful that drugs can be developed to turn gene RbAp48 back on and restore memory functioning for those suffering from age-related memory loss.
Although this discovery may lead the way to restoring a memory and allow healthy individuals to maintain a sharp mind as they age, it is not likely to prove beneficial for those suffering from Alzheimer’s, as Alzheimer’s is thought to be the result of dying brains cells, and not related to gene RbAp48.