Plaques and tangles made of proteins are believed to contribute to the debilitating progression of Alzheimer's disease, and molecules called microRNAs regulate protein levels in the brain, they said.
A team of researchers at Tel Aviv report they've identified a specific set of microRNAs that detrimentally regulate protein levels in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease and beneficially regulate protein levels in the brains of other mice living in a stimulating environment.
"We were able to create two lists of microRNAs -- those that contribute to brain performance and those that detract -- depending on their levels in the brain," neurobiologist Boaz Barak said. "By targeting these molecules, we hope to move closer toward earlier detection and better treatment of Alzheimer's disease."
The molecules that beneficially regulate protein levels could be targeted by activities or drugs to preserve brain function, the researchers said.
"Our biggest hope is to be able to one day use microRNAs to detect Alzheimer's disease in people at a young age and begin a tailor-made treatment based on our findings, right away," Barak said.