Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Survival' Genes Hold Key To Healthy Brains In Babies And The Elderly

Date:
December 5, 2005
Source:
University of Edinburgh
Summary:
Completing a daily crossword and enjoying a range of activities and interests has long been accepted as a recipe for maintaining a healthy brain in older age, but the reasons for this have never been clear. Now, scientists at the University of Edinburgh are seeking to identify brain's 'survival' genes which lie dormant in unused brain cells, but are re-awakened in active brain cells.

Completing a daily crossword and enjoying a range of activities and interests has long been accepted as a recipe for maintaining a healthy brain in older age, but the reasons for this have never been clear. Now, scientists at the University of Edinburgh are seeking to identify brain's 'survival' genes which lie dormant in unused brain cells, but are re-awakened in active brain cells. These awakened genes make the brain cells live longer and resist traumas such as disease, stroke and the effects of drugs, and are also critical to brain development in unborn babies.

Their findings could lead to the development of smarter drugs or gene therapies to halt the progress of neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and may also explain, scientifically, the benefits to the brain of maintaining an intellectually and physically stimulating lifestyle in later years.

Dr Giles Hardingham of the Centre for Neuroscience Research at the University of Edinburgh said: "When brain cells are highly stimulated, many unused genes are suddenly reactivated. We have found that a group of these genes can make the active brain cells far healthier than lazy, inactive cells, and more likely to live a long life. These findings also have implications at the other end of life, where maternal drug taking and drinking can cause these survival genes to be turned off in the brain of unborn babies."

Dr Hardingham, who presented this work recently at the prestigious annual meeting for the Society for Neuroscience in Washington DC, explained: "We recently discovered that a critical step in turning on these survival genes involves activating a master genetic controller called CREB. We aim to home in on which of these CREB-controlled genes are crucial in helping the brain cells live longer and become resistant to trauma. By being able to explain at molecular level the basis of brain activity-dependent survival, it will open the way to developing better therapies to help halt the progress of neurological diseases.

He added: "Our work also bears relevance to the potential harm that can befall an unborn baby if it is exposed to substances which suppress its brain activity, like alcohol, and certain drugs like Ketamine and PCP (Angel Dust). The brain cells of young, developing brains are particularly reliant on signals from these 'survival' genes, but these signals are suppressed if their mothers are taking drugs or drinking alcohol.

"This in turn can lead to serious health problems such as foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which affects up to one per cent of live births in the UK and can cause mental retardation, behavioural problems and diminished growth. Some of this harm may be reduced or minimized if we know exactly how it is taking place."

###

The Wellcome Trust, the Royal Society and Tenovus are funding the new project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Edinburgh. "'Survival' Genes Hold Key To Healthy Brains In Babies And The Elderly." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051205075505.htm>.
University of Edinburgh. (2005, December 5). 'Survival' Genes Hold Key To Healthy Brains In Babies And The Elderly. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051205075505.htm
University of Edinburgh. "'Survival' Genes Hold Key To Healthy Brains In Babies And The Elderly." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051205075505.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins