Rescuing immune system cells halts brain damage

From Care and cure magazine - Spring 2015, find out about research into immune system cells.

Results from a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggest that dysfunction of a type of immune system cell could provide a target for future drugs for Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers from Stanford University studied cells known as microglia, which form part of the immune system and work to protect the brain and spinal cord.

Professor Katrin Andreasson, who led the study, said:

'The microglias are supposed to be, from the get-go, constantly clearing amyloid-beta, as well as keeping a lid on inflammation. If they lose their ability to function, things get out of control. Amyloid-beta builds up in the brain, inducing toxic inflammation.'

By studying mice with hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, the researchers found that deleting the gene that produces a protein called EP2 restored the function of the microglia. This included clearance of amyloid-beta, suppression of toxic inflammation, and prevention of memory deficits and damage to synapses.

The researchers hope that future studies will lead to the development of treatments that can have the same effect in people and prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease.

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