Recently, Dr. Kenneth Kosik, who is Harriman Professor at the Neuroscience Department of the California University, Santa Barbara has led an expert team focusing on usage of a recognized drug in the treatment of the buildup of the protein named “tau” in an individual’s brain, which can turn toxic.
Usually, this particular protein helps to stabilize microtubules. They are axon elements which is the “stems” linking neurons or the cells of the brain together and allowing their communication.
According to Kosik, tau proteins can be thought of as the wooden planks on rail tracks that hold the tracks of microtubules together. But as a consequence of some mutation, these tau proteins misfold at times, turning poorly soluble and sticky. This leads to a clogging of connections existing between the cells of the brain. Such changes are in the same strain of a type of dementia’s development. This type is known as “frontotemporal dementia”, affecting frontal and temporal brain lobes. This results in impairment of behavior, abilities to take decisions and emotional expressions.
Kosik further explained that initially, patients barely show any memory-related problems. Psychiatric problems are more prevalent, comprising impulsive personalities with inappropriate behavior. In this current study, the team led by Kosik collected skin cell samples from individuals having tau protein mutation. In laboratory, these cells were first converted by scientists to stem cells, then to neurons so as to trace the type of genetic mutations affecting tau.
These findings were reported by researchers in Science Translational Medicine’s journal, indicating the presence of three genes in dysregulations of tau mutations. In particular, the team of researchers focused on the RASD2 gene. This gene helps in driving activity of molecules that produce energy known as GTPases.RASD2 as well as a similar gene known as RAS have been noticed by scientists as they seem to be responding to the drugs.