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 25, 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 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
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