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article imageResearch shows how Alzheimer's affects spatial memory

By Tim Sandle     Oct 18, 2012 in Science
New research has shown how the chemical changes in the brain, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, affect spatial memory. This could lead to a new generation of medicines which help to improve spatial awareness.
Researchers at Western University have created a model that mimics some of the chemical changes in the brain that occur with Alzheimer's. According to Eureka, the research looked into reactions relating to a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger within the brain) and the kinds of memory problems that are associated with this loss of function. The studies were undertaken in mice.
The researchers created a mouse line with similar brain regions to those of an Alzheimer's patient. From the research, it was found that the neurochemical failure caused problems with spatial memory. The mice were unable to orientate themselves around previously familiar areas.
In relation to people, the research indicates how neurochemical issues affect the information needed by people to find their way around their home town. The same chemical pathway may also trigger the types of hyperactive symptoms which Alzheimer's sufferers also experience.
The implication of the research is that it could lead to new types of drugs which can boost the chemical messenger, helping to reduce some the brain deficits in relation to spatial awareness.
The research was led by Marco and Vania Prado at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry's Robarts Research Institute, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In unrelated research, the pharma companies Roche and Eli Lilly are investigating new drugs designed to counter the effects of amyloid beta, the main ingredient of brain plaques found in Alzheimer’s patients.
More about Health, Alzheimer's disease, spatial
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