Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Blocking Receptors


I love when someone sends me an article or other tidbit of information that they believe may be of interest.  They are most often right.  

Thanks to a friend, I learned of an announcement coming out of Stanford last month.  In summary, using genetically engineered mice, researchers at Stanford have found that microglia can stop working properly and that work be reinitiated if a single molecule is blocked for them.  Microglia are a type of brain cell which serve as the primary active immune defense for the brain and spinal column.  If the microglia are working, they clean out plaques, damaged cells or other things causing inflammation.  Alzheimer's has a connection to a build up of plaques and inflammation and causes damaged neurons.

The implications of the Stanford announcement is that by getting the microglia working again Alzheimer's may be prevented by a daily pill much like a low-dose of aspirin helps prevent heart attacks.  That's pretty cool news!

Now for the obligatory note of caution.  This is an initial finding though an exciting one.  This also is found using a mouse model.  Unfortunately, potential preventatives or treatments which work in genetically engineered mice do not always show positive results in humans.  So, more work needs to be done down this path of research and tests need to be done on humans.  

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