One of the hallmarks of dementia is the loss of memory, as the brain struggles to process and retain new information. However, researchers at John Hopkins believe that a new discovery about how memories are formed could hold the key to one day combating cognitive decline and mental illness. When studying small parts of genetic material that control protein formation in the brain -microRNAs - it was found they also affected the actions of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The BDNF is associated with brain cell survival, learning and memory boosting by releasing the proteins that help establish memories.
Researchers noted that levels of certain microRNAs were lower when treated with BDNF, indicating that the BDNF also affects protein production. The study also found that the microRNAs affected by BDNF shared a common genetic sequence, which can be used as a starting point for developing treatment for conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.