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Lack of Naturally Occurring Protein Associated With Dementia

Update Date: Aug 27, 2014 09:33 AM EDT

Lack of a naturally occurring protein is linked to early signs of dementia, according to a new study. 

The study found that the absence of the protein MK2/3 promotes structural and physiological changes to cells in the nervous system. These changes were observed to have a significant correlation with early signs of dementia, such as restricted learning and memory formation capabilities. 

The study further pointed that the absence of MK2/3, in spite of the brain cells (neurons) having significant structural abnormalities, did not prevent memories being formed, but did prevent these memories being altered. 

Findings of the study have led researchers to call for greater attention to be paid to studying MK2/3. 

 "Understanding how the brain functions from the sub-cellular to systems level is vital if we are to be able to develop ways to counteract changes that occur with aging," said Lead researcher and author Dr Sonia Corrêa, in the press release.

"By demonstrating for the first time that the MK2/3 protein, which is essential for neuron communication, is required to fine-tune memory formation this study provides new insight into how molecular mechanisms regulate cognition".

"Given their vital role in memory formation, MK2/3 pathways are important potential pharmaceutical targets for the treatment of cognitive deficits associated with ageing and dementia," argued Dr Corrêa.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Communication.

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