DREAM gene found to be a genetic candidate for explaining old age dementia



A noninvasive test that analyzes proteins in the urine can correctly identify patients whose transplanted kidneys are failing, according to a study appearing in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN). The results might allow physicians to more accurately monitor transplant patients and to fine-tune the immunosuppressive therapies prescribed

Full Post: Noninvasive test for urine protein detects kidney dysfunction in transplant patients

In 2002, a group of scientists at the University of Toronto was able to identify a gene which they dubbed DREAM (downstream regulatory element antagonistic modulator).

The gene’s function was highly interesting: it obviously served as a key regulator in the perception of pain. Mice who lacked the gene showed clear signs of markedly reduced sensitivity to all kinds of pain, whether chronic or acute. Otherwise, the mice appeared perfectly normal.

The work leading to these findings was carried out in the lab of Josef Penninger, then principal investigator at the Amgen Institute in Toronto. The publication describing the gene’s function was received with great interest (Cell , Vol. 108, 31-43, 11.1.2002) and DREAM was subsequently termed the “Master-Gene of pain perception”.

Josef Penninger, meanwhile scientific director of IMBA, the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, continued to wonder what other surprises DREAM might have in store. In a collaborative effort with neurobiologists from the University Pablo de Olivade (Seville) he devised experiments to follow up on the previous findings. A team of scientists under ?gel Manuel Carri?ubjected DREAM-less mice to numerous neurological tests and analyzed their memory skills. The results were striking: without DREAM, mice were able to learn faster and remember better. Fascinatingly, the brains of aged mice (18 months) showed learning capacities similar to those of very young mice.

Thus, DREAM turns out to be a genetic candidate for explaining old age dementia. Even a causal connection to Alzheimer’s disease seems plausible. Studies published in mid 2008 suggest that the devastating condition may be related to Calcium regulation gone awry. The accumulation of amyloid plaques in brain cells, usually blamed for Alzheimer’s, might be a consequence of the Calcium-imbalance rather than the culprit for the disease.

And Calcium regulation is also responsible for tuning the activity of the DREAM-gene. Calcium homeostasis may thus be the link between pain perception, learning and memory. This is supported by observations of patients suffering from chronic pain: very often their ability to memorize is strikingly reduced and they need a lot more time to learn than individuals without pain.

“It is absolutely fascinating that we found a gene which at the same time regulates pain, learning and old age memory function”, says Josef Penninger, “and it is of great interest to the millions of people suffering from chronic pain that we follow up on these results.”

http://www.imp.ac.at/

Link




Historically, scientists have regarded itching as a less intense version of the body’s response to pain, but researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have determined that pain and itch actually are regulated by different molecular mechanisms. Today at Neuroscience 2008, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s

Full Post: Pain and itch regulated by different molecular mechanisms



By manipulating the appearance of a chronically achy hand, researchers have found they could increase or decrease the pain and swelling in patients moving their symptomatic limbs. The findings - reported in the November 25th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication - reveal a profound top-down effect of body image on body tissues,

Full Post: Discovery may lead to new therapeutic approaches for pain reduction



According to new research patients suffering chronic pain are more likely than others to consider suicide. A study by researchers in the United States found this increased risk remained even when the possible effect of mental illness was accounted for and the researchers say it provides further evidence of the need to be aware of

Full Post: Chronic pain makes many sufferers contemplate suicide



Thanks to our ability to learn and to remember, we can perform tasks that other living things can not even dream of. However, we are only just beginning to get the gist of what really goes on in the brain when it learns or forgets something. What we do know is that changes in the

Full Post: Forgotten but not gone - how the brain takes care of things



A collaborative study led by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is giving what may be the first look at how interactions between genes underlie a key symptom of schizophrenia, impaired working memory. Functional imaging studies reveal how a combination of common variants in two genes is associated with reduced activity of important brain structures

Full Post: Interaction between gene variants may alter brain function in schizophrenia