Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have found a way to reverse Alzheimer’s disease.
In their breakthrough study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they reported the use of an unnamed peptide that can interfere with CDK5, an enzyme heavily involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment with this peptide caused dramatic reductions in neurodegeneration and DNA damage in the brains of mice.
CDK5 overactivity and dementia
While conducting the study, MIT researchers discovered that they could interfere with an enzyme typically found to be overactive in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
CDK5, the hyperactive enzyme, was treated with an unnamed peptide, or string of amino acids. Early tests conducted on mice had “promising” results.
Li-Huei Tsai, a study author and director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, explained that the unnamed peptide can cross the blood-brain barrier and reach neurons of the hippocampus and other parts of the brain. A couple of different models also showed that the peptide had “protective effects against loss of neurons and also appears to be able to rescue some of the behavioral deficits.”
The researchers are hopeful that continued research can help confirm if the particular peptide might be a treatment for dementia — particularly dementia brought on by CDK5 overactivity.
CDK5 activity is triggered by a smaller protein called P35, which, in those with Alzheimer’s, can become harmful when “cleaved” into a smaller protein known as P25, another enzyme associated with Parkinson’s disease. (Related: Study links olive oil intake to reduced heart disease and Alzheimer’s risk.)
The MIT report added that the P25 protein makes CDK5 hyperactive.
While pharmaceutical companies have tried to target P25 with small-molecule drugs, these drugs often cause side effects because they also interfere with other cyclin-dependent kinases, which is why none of them have been tested in patients.
The research team approached P25 differently by using the peptide instead.
After testing the peptide in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease that has hyperactive CDK5, the researchers observed several beneficial effects, such as reductions in DNA damage, neural inflammation and neuron loss.
The peptide also showed strong results in repairing the brain’s tau protein. When altered, tau protein becomes a main characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
Aside from the observed effects in the brain, the researchers also observed behavioral improvements.
Natural ways to reduce Alzheimer’s risk
Researchers worldwide continue to study how to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Like other chronic conditions, experts believe Alzheimer’s develops due to complex interactions among multiple factors that include age, genetics, environment, lifestyle and coexisting medical conditions.
While some risk factors, like your age or genes, are impossible to change, others, like high blood pressure (hypertension) and lack of exercise, can be addressed to help reduce risk.
And while Alzheimer’s has no mainstream cure, studies have revealed that you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Exercise and diet
Regular physical activity and a balanced diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
Physical activity directly benefits brain cells by increasing blood and oxygen flow in the brain. Thanks to its known cardiovascular benefits, a medically approved exercise program is a crucial part of your overall wellness plan.
Studies suggest that heart-healthy eating may also help boost brain health. Heart-healthy eating includes limiting your intake of foods full of sugar and saturated fats and eating a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Two extensively studied diets may also help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s: The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and the Mediterranean diet.
The DASH diet includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, nuts, whole grains and vegetable oils. This diet limits your intake of sodium, sweets, sugary drinks and red meat.
The Mediterranean diet includes relatively little red meat and focuses more on fish and shellfish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil.
Social connections and intellectual activity
Several studies show that maintaining strong social connections and staying mentally active as you age can help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
However, experts are not certain about the reason for this link. Some think it could be because of “direct mechanisms through which social and mental stimulation strengthen connections between nerve cells in the brain.”
Here are some activities that can help boost your memory and brain function:
Test your recall
Make a list, like grocery items or things in your room, and memorize it.
One hour or so later, try to see how many items you can recall. Make the list as challenging as you can for the greatest mental stimulation.
One small past study suggested that writing and organizing lists helps older adults recall word lists more effectively.
Do math in your head
Try to solve math problems without a pencil, paper, calculator or computer.
In a small study, researchers reported that solving math problems had a positive effect on volunteers’ cognition. Kick things up a notch by walking at the same time.
Improve your hand-eye coordination
Start a new hobby that involves fine motor skills to help improve your hand-eye coordination.
According to a study, activities like drawing, knitting, painting, playing video games, tai chi or sports like racquet sports can help improve hand-eye coordination.
Learn how to play a musical instrument
If possible, learn to play a musical instrument or join a choir. According to research, learning new and complex skills offers benefits for the aging brain.
A study also found that musical activities, such as playing a musical instrument, taking piano lessons or singing in a choir, may offer benefits for healthy brain aging.
Stay active and follow a healthy diet to improve your overall well-being and reduce Alzheimer’s risk.
Watch the video below to know how acai berries can support a healthy brain and heart.
This video is from the Health Ranger Store channel on Brighteon.com.