• Kyodo

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A team of researchers led by a Keio University professor has found a gene that prevents brain cells from deteriorating from Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Tuesday edition of a U.S. science academy bulletin.

Alzheimer’s, a neuro-degenerative disease, kills neuronal cells in the brain and shrinks the brain, causing dementia.

Ikuo Nishimoto, a professor at Keio University School of Medicine, and his team observed that cells did not die in the rear part of some Alzheimer’s patients’ brains and looked for genes in those cells.

After experiments using rats, the researchers found a gene producing a substance that prevents the death of neuronal cells caused by three mutant genes, the team said.

The team, which named the substance humanin (HN), said that as far as they knew, it had not been identified previously.

The team said that although future studies are required to examine the characteristics of HN, the recent findings can provide a starting point for developing a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Takeshi Tabira, head of the National Institute for Longevity Sciences at Chubu National Hospital, praised the discovery.

“It is possible for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to be prevented in the future simply through injection by syringe or by drinking HN,” Tabira said.

HN is easy to compose as it has a relatively simple structure.

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