Health: The Power of Protein

Scientists looking for early indications of Alzheimer’s disease analyzed samples of 1,129 proteins in the blood of 200 twins. Over the next 10 years, they compared levels of protein in their blood to data from cognitive-function tests. They noticed that individuals whose cognitive performance declined tended to have lower levels of the protein MAPKAPK5 in their blood. Scientists know that this protein is involved in the transmission of chemical messages within the body, but its role in cognitive decline is still unclear. According to Dr. Eric Karran from the charity of Alzheimer’s Research UK, “This study associated blood levels of a protein called MAPKAPK5 with cognitive decline over a 10-year period, but it will be necessary to investigate more about a possible mechanism linking this protein to changes in memory and thinking.” Changes in the brain can occur very slowly: it can take more than 10 years for changes in the brain to end in memory loss, confusion, or personality change. For this reason, drug companies feel that they have to treat patients years before symptoms appear to protect the brain. For this to be possible, it is important to advance research on early diagnosis of brain diseases.

Contributor: Cristina Herrera

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