Gene Therapy Preserves Brain Matrix, Preventing Memory Loss in Aged Mice

University of Cambridge researchers treat age-related memory loss by maintaining this brain fabric using viral-mediated gene therapy.

The brain is like a 3D roadway where electrochemical information gets shuttled to different regions across nerve highways and streets for us to experience life. Recent work has shown that structures encase some of these routes made of brain cells (neurons) called perineuronal nets. This tunnel-like matrix seals nerve connections and is implicated in the formation and maintenance of memory and the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life (neuroplasticity).

New research published in Molecular Psychiatry out of the University of Cambridge shows that manipulating specific components of perineural nets restores neuroplasticity and alleviates memory deficits in aged mice. When Sujeong Yang and her colleagues impeded the generation of a subset of molecules that make up perineuronal nets, the brains of young mice aged rapidly and presented with memory problems. Restoring the levels of these molecules, called chondroitin 6-sulphates, in aged animals, rescued the memory deficits, suggesting a strategy to improve age-related memory impairment.

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