Review: DNA Damage and Its Links to Neurodegeneration

The integrity of our genetic material is under constant attack from numerous endogenous and exogenous agents. The consequences of a defective DNA damage response are well studied in proliferating cells, especially with regards to the development of cancer, yet its precise roles in the nervous system are relatively poorly understood. Here we attempt to provide a comprehensive.. read more →

Neuroscientists find that limiting a certain protein in the brain reverses Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice

Limiting a certain protein in the brain reverses Alzheimer’s symptoms in mice, report neuroscientists at MIT’s Picower Intitute for Learning and Memory. Researchers found that the overproduction of the protein known as p25 may be the culprit behind the sticky protein-fragment clusters that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The work, which was.. read more →

Drug Tweaks Epigenome to Erase Fear Memories

A hurricane, a car accident, a roadside bomb, a rape — extreme stress is more common than you might think, with an estimated 50 to 60 percent of Americans experiencing it at some point in their lives. About 8 percent of that group will be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. They will have.. read more →

Science In Mind

MIT researchers find a drug that helps erase traumatic memories in mice. For years, neuroscientist Li-Huei Tsai has been unraveling the brain circuits that underlie memory, searching for approaches that might be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease. In 2007, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist identified an experimental drug that could restore lost memories in mice. Lately,.. read more →

Erasing traumatic memories

New study identifies drug that could improve treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder. Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition marked by severe anxiety stemming from a traumatic event such as a battle or violent attack. Many patients undergo psychotherapy designed to help them re-experience their traumatic memory in a safe.. read more →

How old memories fade away

Discovery of a gene essential for memory extinction could lead to new PTSD treatments. If you got beat up by a bully on your walk home from school every day, you would probably become very afraid of the spot where you usually met him. However, if the bully moved out of town, you would gradually.. read more →

DNA damage may cause ALS

New study finds link between neurons’ inability to repair DNA and neurodegeneration. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — is a neurodegenerative disease that destroys the neurons that control muscle movement. There is no cure for ALS, which kills most patients within three to five years of the onset of.. read more →

Histone acetylation: molecular mnemonics on the chromatin

Long-lasting memories require specific gene expression programmes that are, in part, orchestrated by epigenetic mechanisms. Of the epigenetic modifications identified in cognitive processes, histone acetylation has spurred considerable interest. Whereas increments in histone acetylation have consistently been shown to favour learning and memory, a lack thereof has been causally implicated in cognitive impairments in neurodevelopmental.. read more →

Li-Huei Tsai: I well remember

Tsai studies how Cdk5 activity affects brain development, learning, and memory. Cdk5 is a kinase expressed mainly in neurons, where it helps regulate the activity of a whole host of downstream targets, including ion channels and synaptic scaffold proteins. Thus, it’s perhaps to be expected that Cdk5 dysregulation is associated with many neuropathologies. Li-Huei Tsai.. read more →

Re-opening the Memory Book

Following the completion of the Human Genome Project, much of biology’s focus has been shifted from the raw sequence of genes to their regulation over time and in response to environmental stimuli. Like books on a shelf, genes do not exert effects by their mere presence; rather, the pages of the book (i.e., the chromatin).. read more →

Tsai Lab researchers identify brain cell aberration tied to autism

A gene linked to autism spectrum disorders (ASD) actually alters individual brain cells’ ability to process information, researchers at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory report in the June 10 advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience. The finding focuses on a faulty molecular mechanism that may underlie ASD’s cognitive impairments. The discovery could lead to.. read more →

Reversing Alzheimer’s gene ‘blockade’ can restore memory, other cognitive functions

Neuroscientists show that HDAC2 enzyme could be a good target for new drugs. MIT neuroscientists have shown that an enzyme overproduced in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients creates a blockade that shuts off genes necessary to form new memories. Furthermore, by inhibiting that enzyme in mice, the researchers were able to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms. The.. read more →

Unraveling how a mutation can lead to psychiatric illness

MIT neuroscientists show that a gene linked with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder impairs early brain development. In recent years, scientists have discovered several genetic mutations associated with greater risk of psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. One such mutation, known as DISC1 — an abbreviation for “Disrupted in Schizophrenia-1” — was first identified.. read more →