Their mission was to solve a small but nagging mystery of Alzheimer's disease: How would the brain's ability to store information be affected if they "turned off" the obscure protein LRP1?
But Guojun Bu and his fellow researchers were in for a surprise. As they expected, mice whose brains had been wiped of the LRP1 gene showed Alzheimer's-like memory problems. But they also started to put on weight - fast.
The mice were lethargic. They were on their way to becoming diabetic. And they didn't seem to know when to stop eating.
Scientists at the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have identified the root molecular cause of a variety of ills brought on by advanced age, including waning energy, failure of the heart and other organs, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
Invite your friends over, gather loved ones, serve some good munchies, and settle in for a night of TV well worth watching. Starting next Saturday, January 29, 2011, CNN will air a documentary film by Felipe Barral. It will focus the attention of viewers around the globe on the terrible scourge that is familial Alzheimer's disease. But more than that, it also showcases a wave of international momentum that is building among inspiring families, committed doctors, scientists - and hopefully industry and regulators - to stop the disease with prevention and therapeutic trials.
The launch of the International Genomics of Alzheimer's Project (IGAP) - a collaboration formed to discover and map the genes that contribute to Alzheimer's disease - was announced today by a multi-national group of researchers. The collaborative effort, spanning universities from both Europe and the United States, will combine the knowledge, staff and resources of four consortia that conduct research on Alzheimer's disease genetics.
Researchers have been able to see changes deep within the brains of living animals at the cellular level. The advance could provide an important tool for understanding diseases and disorders of the brain, including substance abuse and addiction.
Facing the devastation of Alzheimer's disease, the normal forgetfulness of aging, or even just a particularly important exam, many people would be tempted by a drug that could prevent forgetting or enhance memory.
Pharmaceutical companies are racing to test compounds that could help treat people who suffer from devastating neurodegenerative diseases, while makers of nutritional supplements highlight their alledged brain-boosting abilites.
An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration recommended unanimously Thursday that the agency approve the first test - a brain scan - that can show the characteristic plaques of Alzheimer's disease in the brain of a living person. The approval was contingent on radiologists agreeing on what the scans say and doctors being trained in how to read the scans.
Researchers are reporting major advances toward resolving two underlying problems involving Alzheimer's disease: How do you know if someone who is demented has it? And how can you screen the general population to see who is at risk?
One study, reported in The New York Times in June, evaluated a new type of brain scan that can detect plaques that are uniquely characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
Last year, an expensive, red-brick residential complex opened here, equipped with a hair salon, cinema, toy-cluttered game rooms and a karaoke suite offering the latest in pop music.
The residents are not Chinese yuppies. They are older patients with Alzheimer's disease or dementia in a nursing home that is on the forefront of a new effort by China to deal with its exploding elderly population.