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Scientists have discovered that a gene-regulating protein that protects the developing brain of a fetus resurfaces in old age and may stave off dementia, a finding that could open a new path in Alzheimer’s research.

The research by Harvard University scientists, published in the journal Nature, showed that the protein, dubbed REST, is depleted in brains of people with Alzheimer’s. It was found at a level three times higher in those who didn’t become demented, even when they had brain markings of the disease. Until now, REST wasn’t known to have a role in the adult brain.

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