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Research links top two elderly diseases

13th February 2006

US studies have revealed a potential connection between neurone death caused by dementia and a protein seen in cancer cases.

Researchers at a number of US institutions have carried out experimental studies using the brain of a fruit fly to test the links between cell-division proteins and cognitive decline, reports Medical News Today.

They found that a protein normally associated with cancer was re-expressed by dying neurons in those with dementia diseases such as Alzheimer's, helping to extend current knowledge of the impact of cell-division on neurodegeneration.

Work on the model showed that a reduction in neurones could be prevented when the expression of cell-cycle proteins was genetically blocked and when anti-cancer drugs were used.

The researchers say that the results could help to establish causal connections and lead to the potential treatment of dementia with cancer-related therapies.

The findings are also seen as significant as dementia and cancer are the most important diseases in terms of the elderly and breakthroughs in treatment could help many older people to stay healthier and mentally aware for longer.