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Maintaining the brain's wiring in aging and disease
Date:12/5/2008

mal diameter. These swellings disrupt transport but not, it seems, completely. Enough material gets through the swellings to keep more distant parts of the axon alive for at least several months, and probably for a year or more. This is important because it suggests a successful therapy applied during this early period may not only halt the symptoms, but allow a degree of functional recovery.

"We've been able to look at whole nerve cells affected by Alzheimer's", said Dr Michael Coleman. "For the first time we have shown that supporting parts of nerve cells are alive, and we can now learn how to intervene to recover connections. This is very important for treatment because in normal adult life, nerve cell connections constantly disappear and reform, but can only do so if the supporting parts of the cell remain. Our results suggest a time window in which damaged connections between brain cells could recover under the right conditions."

This basic research gives hope over the longer term to the 700,000 people in the UK who live with dementia. Understanding how the brain responds to disease also tells us a lot about how it functions in all of us.


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Contact: Dr. Claire Cockcroft
claire.cockcroft@bbsrc.ac.uk
44-01-223-496-260
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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