Brain-aging gene identified, opening up treatment possibilities

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Scientists at the Université de Montréal have discovered a gene that is responsible for the aging of neurons in the brain and central nervous system. This finding could lead to new therapies for Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's.  

The gene, called Bmi1, prevents the activation of certain other brain functions, and also prevents the accumulation of free-radicals in the brain, which can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, according to research authors. Without the gene, the aging process of the brain and the eye was dramatically accelerated in laboratory mice, the research shows.

The primary risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease is age, researchers say. By controlling this gene, they hope to be able to reduce pathological aging of the brain and central nervous system, thus preventing the development of those degenerative diseases. The study appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.