The word “chaperone” refers to an adult who keeps teenagers from acting up at a dance or overnight trip. It also describes a type of protein that can guard the brain against its own troublemakers: misfolded proteins that are involved in several neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine have demonstrated that as animals age, their brains are more vulnerable to misfolded proteins, partly because of a decline in chaperone activity.

The researchers were studying a model of spinocerebellar ataxia, but the findings have implications for understanding other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

They also identified targets for potential therapies: bolstering levels of either a particular chaperone or a growth factor in brain cells can protect against the toxic effects of misfolded proteins.

The results were published in the journal Neuron.

Source:  Medical Express

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