New Study Uncovers Insights Into Brain Aging, Neurogenererative Diseases, such as Alzheimer’s

Patricia Inacio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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brain aging

brain agingA study entitled “A Chaperome Subnetwork Safeguards Proteostasis in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease” recently published in the journal Cell Reports, identifies a subset of chaperones that protect protein-correct folding in aging brains and neurogenererative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

In this study, a team of scientists at Proteostasis Therapeutics, Inc., Northwestern University and Harvard University performed a comprehensive genetic analysis of human brain tissue during healthy individuals’ normal aging and in those affected with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. They found that a specific subset of the chaperone human network declines with age in the brains of healthy individuals but, in humans affected by neurodegenerative diseases, the decline is actually much more rapid.

Chaperones are a class of proteins that form a patrolling system identifying misfiled proteins and help their refolding into the correct shape — a key event in protein homeostasis and healthy cells. The researchers found that one-third of the human chaperones decline with age. From these, 28 human genes were specifically associated with aging brains and diseases such as Huntington’s. As such, the authors propose that the underpinned genes have the potential to be used as a target to develop therapeutics for age-related disorders associated with protein perturbed balance.

Meenu Chhabra, President and CEO of Proteostasis Therapeutics commented “This pioneering work is particularly notable because it has been able to distill out only 28 key genes from the vast human genome of 25,000 genes and elegantly demonstrate their connection with the aging process. Using our expertise in protein biology we will now be able to delve into the molecular basis for the decline in the encoded chaperones proteins, with the long term goal of developing chaperone targeted therapies to prevent their age associated decline. Preventing or reversing age related neurodegenerative processes is one of the highest unmet medical needs and this research brings us one step closer to the solution and we thank all the scientists involved in this study for their dedication and groundbreaking work.”