Scientists have good news for all the older adults who occasionally forget why they walked into a room – and panic that they are getting Alzheimer’s disease, reports Reuters.
“Not only is age-related memory loss a syndrome in its own right and completely unrelated to that dread disease, but unlike Alzheimer’s it may be reversible or even preventable, researchers led by a Nobel laureate said in a study published on Wednesday.
“Using human brains that had been donated to science as well as the brains of lab mice, the study for the first time pinpointed the molecular defects that cause cognitive aging.
“In an unusual ray of hope for a field that has had almost nothing to offer older adults whose memory is failing, the study’s authors conclude that drugs, foods or even behaviors might be identified that affect those molecular mechanisms, helping to restore memory.
“Any such interventions would represent a significant advance over the paltry offerings science has come up with so far to prevent memory decline, such as advice to keep cognitively active and healthy – which helps some people, but not all, and has only a flimsy scientific foundation. By identifying the “where did I park the car?” molecule, the discovery could also kick-start the mostly moribund efforts to develop drugs to slow or roll back the memory lapses that accompany normal aging.
“This is a lovely set of studies,” said Molly Wagster of the National Institute on Aging, an expert on normal age-related memory decline who was not involved in the new study. “They provide clues to the underlying mechanism of age-related memory decline and will, hopefully, move us down the road toward targeted therapeutics.”
“About 40 percent of Americans age 85 and older say they experience some memory loss, a 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center found, as did 27 percent of those 75 to 84 and 20 percent of those ages 65 to 74.”