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Study shows new evidence of age-related decline in the brain's master circadian clock
Date:7/19/2011

r ability to better handle time-zone changes, perhaps by boosting the amplitude of the SCN. New pharmaceutical approaches may be developed, the scientists said. Future research may reveal which approaches are likely to be most effective.

Co-authors of the study included lead scientist Takahiro Nakamura, a former UCLA postdoctoral scholar in Colwell and Block's laboratory, who is currently on the faculty of Japan's Teikyo Heisei University; Takashi Kudo, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar; and Tamara Cutler, a UCLA undergraduate student who works in Colwell and Block's lab.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and by UCLA.

Implications for patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson's

In related research, Colwell and his colleagues have documented that changes similar to those that occur as we age also occur in mouse models of neurodegenerative disorders like Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease.

"With many neurological disorders, patients have a hard time sleeping during the night and staying awake during the day," said Colwell, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Block's lab in the early 1990s at the University of Virginia. "One of the main clinical complaints of patients with Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease is they cannot sleep and do not respond well to sleeping pills. We think the same dysfunction we see with normal aging occurs much earlier and more severely with these patients, and we hope that the treatment strategies we develop for aging can be applied to help patients with neurodegenerative diseases as well. If we learn what is going wrong, then we may be able to develop treatments."

Colwell's research on Huntington's disease was published earlier this year in the journal Experimental Neurology, and his research on Parkinson's has been accepted for publication in the same journal.

Undergraduate works in laboratory of Colwell and Block
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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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