Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Medicine Science

Researchers Restore Youthful Memory In Aging Mice 145

Posted by kdawson
from the je-me-souviens dept.
An anonymous reader writes "German neuroscientists made a breakthrough in 'age-related cognitive decline', a common condition that often begins in one's late 40s (especially declarative memory — the ability to recall facts and experiences). Their new study identifies a genetic 'switch' for the cluster of learning and memory genes that cause memory impairment in aging mice. By injecting an enzyme, the team 'flipped' the switch to its on position for older mice, giving them the memory and learning performance they'd enjoyed when they were young. Now the team ultimately hopes to recover seemingly lost long-term memory in human patients." The video, which explains the gene flipping mechanism, is worth a watch (2:18).
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Researchers Restore Youthful Memory In Aging Mice

Comments Filter:
  • So they remember everything, but they don't know anything?

  • I'm not in my 40's yet and I already need this done to me...
    • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:32PM (#32258854) Journal
      If you're that young and already having memory problems (assuming you don't have a brain tumor or something), it's lifestyle related. Get out and exercise, eat well, there's probably some nutrient you're missing. Eat lot's of broccoli. Sleep enough. Don't under-estimate the brain wasting effects of alcohol or cocaine. I don't know you so I can't say exactly what your personal problem is.

      A lot of people, for example, don't eat enough vegetables. They'll eat a salad once a week or an apple every few days or something and hope that's good enough. It's not. You may not notice the effects right away, but over time they will add up as your body uses up its stored nutrients.

      Same thing with sleep. When you are in college you can get away with binge drinking on the weekends and never sleeping (actually you'll notice the effects of that right away, but they might not be overwhelming), but after a few years you're going to need to take a break and rebuild your energy. A lot of people hit 28 and think they are getting old and tired, but the truth is old-age doesn't set in that early, they're just seeing the effects of not treating their body right. Do what you need to do to rebuild your energy (personally I suggest distance running, and this book is really great motivation [google.com], but do what works for you).
      • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:43PM (#32258960) Homepage
        I'm totally with you, esp. on the last point. My wife and I had a kid a year ago, and sleep hasn't been the same since. Over the same period of time, I've learned for the first time in my life what it means to have to be humble about my memory. Used to be near photographic. Now it's all a jumble. Shows you what 13 months of 5 hours a night of sleep (with the occasional additional nap to almost catch up) will do to you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        Everything sounds great, except the bit about distance running. Running isn't really good for your body; it's really hard on your joints, especially if you run on concrete or asphalt (which just about everything in a metro area is covered with these days).

        I recommend cycling instead. It's better exercise, uses at least as many calories (as long as you don't ride lazily), and doesn't cause joint injuries. It's also a lot better if you're flat-footed like me. It also gets you around a whole lot faster, a

        • by mmarlett (520340)

          After a few years of running moderate distances, I ran a marathon in 2001. That day, after running 26 miles, I drank for 12 hours. Then I ate a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. I refer to it as my triathlon. I was fine the next day and for a few weeks, then my knees started really complaining about the running addiction. My knees were fine with the beer and donuts.

          I've slept four to six hours a night for nearly 20 years now. I drink three to six beers a day, but rarely at a rate greater than one per hour. I have

        • seconded.
          And if like me you're living in a place which is not flat, go for an electric bike.
          Flattens all climbs (if you choose >=400W), same effort when flat if you just flip a switch... and indeed you can commute with it for distances up to 15-20 Km.

        • I recommend cycling instead.

          I've seen plenty of fat bicyclists in my time. You don't see nearly as many fat runners.

          It's better exercise, uses at least as many calories (as long as you don't ride lazily), and doesn't cause joint injuries.

          It's an easier exercise because you're not subjecting your body to nearly as much stress. If I wanted my exercise to be easy, I'd drive a car everywhere.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            It's an easier exercise because you're not subjecting your body to nearly as much stress.

            Wrong. The loads you put on your muscles are significantly higher, especially if you ride in higher gears. The difference is that you don't have any impacts; all the motions are smooth.

            • The loads it puts on your leg muscles are significantly higher. The loads on your arms, your mid-section, your skeletal structure, muscle stabilizers, etc., are next-to-none.

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                That's what the gym is for. There's lots of machines there for exercising specific muscle groups with configurable resistances, without causing impact injuries.

        • by bitty (91794)

          Running isn't really good for your body; it's really hard on your joints, especially if you run on concrete or asphalt (which just about everything in a metro area is covered with these days).

          The big problem with running is the lousy shoes that all but force you to use a heel strike. It's the heel strike that trashes your knees and hips, and leads to fatigue very quickly. Take the shoes off and run barefoot, landing flat-footed or on the balls of your feet. At first you'll discover muscles you haven't been using, then you'll find yourself wondering why you wasted all that money on expensive running shoes.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Yes, that'll work great on hot concrete and asphalt...

            We don't live in wild grasslands any more.

      • You could say that its lifestyle related - but having sleep apnoea doesn't help.

        I eat, on average, 3 pieces of fruit a day (not sure if that is insufficient or not). Normally an apple, banana or two and a mandarin.

        Broccoli? Not so much... Vegies? Yeah, normally when I have tea (evening meal).

        Exercise? Two-hour BJJ sessions twice a week and also Futsal once a week (45 min fast paced game).

        Sleep? Never enough.
        • The catch-phrase slogan is five-a-day for fruits and veggies, so if you make sure to get some vegetables with your evening meal you're probably "ok".

          We just joined a CSA (community supported agriculture). While I like the idea of eating food produced locally, organically, in season, I really like the concept of being given large batches of food and having to cook with it. In one session it's broken us out of our usual dining ruts; over the past week we've had several vegetables I'd never eaten before...

          Fi

        • Yeah, that pretty much sucks. I have no clue what to do with sleep Apnea, maybe get some breathe right strips lol? or maybe sleep on your side instead of your back? That might help.
      • You sound like my mom ... you're right, mind you, but you still sound like my mom.

        As a chronic insomniac I can attest to the damage caused by the lack of sleep. I used to be nice, logical, and even had good grammar and spelling. Now, not so much .. if at all.
      • by russotto (537200)

        Why is it always vegetables and pain? I don't know if you'll live longer eating broccoli and distance running, but it'll sure feel longer. Especially if you really do improve your memory...

        • Here's a quote I remember when I exercise: "If exercise feels like work, you're doing it wrong." If eating broccoli and distance running is miserable for you, then you should change something up a bit.
      • by Flammon (4726)

        Hi phantomfive,

        I'm guessing that you're a runner and you're lucky to have the necessary dopamine production in your brain to motivate you to do so. The people here who are criticizing the benefits of exercise have probably never tried it and are probably talking out of their asses. Unfortunately for them, it's very difficult to get started because ironically, dopamine production is dependent on good nutrition and exercise.

        I've done both, run and not run and when I don't run, I feel like shit and I'm

    • No joke... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mollog (841386)
      I'm hoping they can bring this to the public sooner rather than later. It's not funny when you can't remember stuff the way you used to, it's a little scary. I accept that it's part of getting older, but I don't accept it happily.
    • I'm not in my 40's yet and I already need this done to me...

      Need what done to you?

  • by JDSalinger (911918) * on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:22PM (#32258742)
    My grandmother slowly died of Alzheimer's and it could not have been a sadder thing to witness. Bias fully admitted, I can't help but say... Alzheimer's is the 7th leading cause of death and it afflicts 19% of people aged 75-84 and over 40% of people over 84. If we care about our elders and we care about the shoes we will one day fill, we should all help raise awareness and put our spare money and time to good use.

    The toll of Alzheimer's on America is estimated at about $100 billion per year. If only we could convince Congress of the simple truth, that this sort of basic research will completely pay for itself in the long run and do wonders for humanity. Unfortunately, we can't depend on someone else to pay for this knowledge and progress. We must all pitch in what we can and help keep this sort of research as well funded as possible.

    www.alz.org is a great organization if you have money to donate. Or you can easily start a "Memory Walk" team to go out for a charity walk to raise money and awareness. Plus, can't we all use a good excuse to enjoy a nice day in the sun and have fun with friends and family?
    • You can hide your own Easter eggs, and you can laugh at the same joke every day! Of course they have problems too... like they forget to take their meds, and no one remembers to show up for the support group meetings.
    • by tsotha (720379) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:34PM (#32258878)
      It's not clear to me a treatment for normal cognitive decline would necessarily be effective for Alzheimer's.
    • by Iskender (1040286) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:50PM (#32259010)

      I'd just like to point out that this is a good article:
      1. It's news for nerds.
      2. It goes into some technical detail (molecules named)
      3. It mentions both possible advantages and disadvantages of the approach.
      4. It has both reasonable amounts of text and a decent video. (read:content)

      Really, this is probably the kind of article people refer to when they're whining about other ones.

      I'd love some feedback from the people who go on about kdawson only posting crap, too. Is this crap? Or maybe you prefer to cherry-pick the bad articles instead to hate on the hated editor of the month/year?

      • by DeadDecoy (877617)

        I'd love some feedback from the people who go on about kdawson only posting crap, too. Is this crap? Or maybe you prefer to cherry-pick the bad articles instead to hate on the hated editor of the month/year?

        Clearly they have Alzheimer's :D.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SydShamino (547793)

        I'll link to your post here next time I see someone bitching about kdawson.

        Now, I need to go read the article you've successfully hyped..

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Hey, I get laid once out of every 12,000 tries too ... no one is going to sit around pointing at me like I'm a stud for it. Its just what happens when you do something over and over again, eventually the pattern breaks just out of randomness.

        I have excellent karma, not because I'm great at posting comments but because most people don't vote down, so the fact that I regularly run into the max posts per day limit means my karma goes up because one out of a hundred is thought to be good, which means I get a

      • by Rogerborg (306625)

        Cherry picking bad kdawson articles is a non sequitur. A better analogy would be that his good articles are like needles in a haystack. A haystack made of raw sewage. With hand grenades in it.

        Sure, sometimes Uncle Fester looking freaks get to groom Felicia Day [youtube.com], but it's not a pattern.

      • Who reads TFA anyway? I didn’t even read TFS, the title or your comment. Slashdot is write-only. Didn’t you know?

    • I don't fully agree with the opinion I'm about to present, but one of your statements just seems wrong.

      How would this research pay for itself in the long run? These are generally older people that are afflicted with the disease. The types of people that are either done with their working careers or nearly so, and contribute little or nothing to the tax base. In fact, they either are drawing or are soon to draw on the social programs like Social Security and Medicare. By reducing the number of geriatr
      • What he means is that investing a (relatively) small amount on money now could mean less spending in the future.
      • by plastbox (1577037)
        I'd imagine it costs a whole lot more to keep an aged Alzheimer's patient alive (and relatively happy) that it costs to pay a retired individual who is capable of caring for themselves to do just that. And besides, who cares about expenses in this regard? Yes, I know, everyone cares about money, but the few bucks I'll get once I retire will absolutely pale in comparison to the amount of money I have payed due to all sorts of taxes (I live in Norway, where I pay ~36% income tax, 24% tax on anything I buy, ~8
        • by TheLink (130905)
          But the odds are they will eventually get something else expensive before dying.

          If it's all about economics we'd be happy to let the smokers smoke. After all in countries like the UK they pay more in tobacco tax than they cost the health system every year. So basically smokers are subsidizing the nonsmokers.

          Fact is, eventually you are going to die. Once you're no longer producing $$$ for the country you're starting to cost it $$$.

          Sure it could be your own money, but most people if they retired would eventua
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        If you can prevent Alzheimer's and other age related decay these folks can keep working.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blue trane (110704)

        The point of civilization is knowledge. Knowledge allows us to predict and adapt to sudden catastrophic environmental change, hence it improves our survival fitness. Economics is just a way to increase knowledge.

        If economics is a science, how well does the current model predict economic downturns, or Japan's having a 200% debt-to-gdp ratio but no inflation, low unemployment, and a strong currency?

        The current model of economics appears to include an axiom: the creation of money should be in private hands. Ca

        • Without any specific knowledge of the situations you mentioned, I will say that all of that came back to bite everyone on the ass later and what was going on is that the people in control of the money were also reporting/controlling the nations state of affairs. Also I agree the federal reserve is bad. I'd be interested to know how the yen works... I'd look it up but I would just Wikipedia it (not do it correctly) right now anyway.

  • Wow...... (Score:3, Funny)

    by irreverant (1544263) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:23PM (#32258754)
    When I'm old I'll be able to recall how i misspent my youth. How depressing!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ChefInnocent (667809)
      Why am I reminded of the multi-attributed quote: If you remember the sixties, you weren't really there?
  • Oh great (Score:3, Funny)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:25PM (#32258768) Journal

    I was looking forward to an old age filled with pleasant memories of my many moon landings, that time I helped a young Jewish girl hide from the Spaniards, my service in the Gulf of Afgiraq, and my sexual exploits with Morgan Fairchild. And now you're going to take that away from me?

    • Re:Oh great (Score:5, Funny)

      by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:34PM (#32258868)
      Two old men were out walking with their wives. The first man says to the other man, "I had a great dinner last night at... what was that place? Uh, what's the name of that red flower?" The second man suggests, "Rose?" The first goes on, "That's it." He then calls over to his wife, "Hey, Rose! What's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?"
    • by linzeal (197905)
      Waiting for God, awesome show. They need an American Version.
  • by raving griff (1157645) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:25PM (#32258770)

    While declarative memory does decline as one ages, only recall memory is affected while the ability to recognize does not significantly decline.

    That is, people over 40 tend to decline in scores on fill-in-the-blank tests without a word bank (that require the taker to recall a specific answer) while staying about the same on multiple choice tests, where the answer must be recognized.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:26PM (#32258786)
    but I'll say it again: never before in our history has there been such a good time as now to be a mouse!
  • 42 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jhon (241832) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:29PM (#32258816) Homepage Journal

    That's my age. I do notice tt takes just a wee bit more effort to cram more stuff in my head than it used to. Other than that, I still enjoy my ability to recall ridicules bits of obscure minutia that when viewed in total aren't enough to get me a good job, but are just enough to be annoying.

    Seriously, though. My ability to commit stuff to memory and recall it *IS* one of my marketable skills. And anything that can help prolong the decline is welcome news.

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      One of my concerns is that the things I'll remember into my twilight years are all the different passphrases I have to use at work. I still remember passwords I created in 1995.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PitaBred (632671)

      That's my age. I do notice it takes just a wee bit more effort to cram more stuff in my head than it used to. Other than that, I still enjoy my ability to recall ridiculous bits of obscure minutia that when viewed in total aren't enough to get me a good job, but are just enough to be annoying.

      Seriously, though. My ability to commit stuff to memory and recall it *IS* one of my marketable skills. And anything that can help postpone the decline is welcome news.

      Fixed that for you. Lemme guess... grammar and spelling aren't something you like committing to memory?

      • Re:42 (Score:5, Funny)

        by Em Emalb (452530) <.ememalb. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:38PM (#32258914) Homepage Journal

        I would say "way to be a jerk to the guy", but I figure he won't remember you doing it in 10 minutes anyway. ;-P

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770)

        Fail, "postpone the decline" is not a correction of "prolong the decline".

        If you previously lost some memory from 40 to 70 but with treatment lose the same memory from 40 to 90 you have prolonged the decline by 20 years. If you instead lose it from 60 to 90 you have postponed the decline by 20 years. In total given all the effects of aging, there will probably be some form of decline so the grandparent is likely more right than you too. Damn, I love zinging a grammar and spelling Nazi.

        • Well played. I always love when someone tries being pedantic and fails, then gets burned for it. Well done, sir. Well done.

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          You're assuming the starting and end points of memory are the same and just stretched out further, and that this treatment doesn't stop the decline in its tracks.

          The assumptions I made with my word choice are more in line with what the article showed as the effects of this treatment.

          Bazinga.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Scrameustache (459504)

      That's my age.

      Don't panic.

  • by rcamans (252182) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:38PM (#32258908)

    Oh, now I know what switch instantly gets flipped to off when you first read slashdot...
    That explains a lot...

  • Seriously, do we really want to be fully aware of our suffering as we age and our mortality? Seems nature was doing us a favor by making us oblivious to our own demise.
    • So said someone who hasn't seen both options in person.

      Do I want to live my last twenty years with diving bell syndrome? No. But I'd rather live them bad eyesight and an inability to walk than live them knowing my mental performance was degraded.

      • But I'd rather live them bad eyesight and an inability to walk than live them knowing my mental performance was degraded.

        Living them with the ability to words out of sentences, though, I'm perfectly comfortable with.

  • by IANAAC (692242) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @06:53PM (#32259030)
    and while I do notice it takes a bit more effort to learn something new, once I do I can retain it without problems, provided I use the knowledge.

    Languages have always interested me (it's what I do for a living these days), and every couple years I try to learn the basics of another language. I find that as long as I exercise the newly learned skill/material, I'm OK (such as reading newspapers in the other language, listening to broadcasts in that language, and finally speaking the language whenever I get the chance. I would imagine I'm using a different part of the brain for these activities, though.

    I'm certainly no expert, nor do I claim to know anything of how the mind works for that matter, but I can't help but think that actually using skills learned later in life helps.

    • I'm in my late 30's and once I had kids my memory was shot. I personally think kids kill cells faster than age could ever do.
  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:02PM (#32259084)

    Some things are best left forgotten.

    Unless they can do this selectively, I'll pass. One gets to a certain age...well, the baggage seems to fade away yet the really good stuff remains clear.

    I think this is a good thing, and in my opinion quite possibly a natural function of the human mind--a defense mechanism, perhaps.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      So all we need is technology which can selectively erase memories, like in the movie "Paycheck". Combined with this new memory enhancer, older people can enjoy youthful memories without all the painful ones!

    • by Adambomb (118938)

      (Disclaimer: I'm not a conspiracy theorist nut.)

      Well of course, that is what you want me to think!

      *flees down the corridor twitching at his tin foil suit with matching cumberbund*

  • by Huzzah! (1548443) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:19PM (#32259210)
    Oh, I remember now...
  • It reminds me of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the mice.
    If we develop a method to create super intelligence and test it on mice first, then they will recognise that fact and play dumb.
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:32PM (#32259308) Homepage
    Nov 21 - I did a dumb thing today I forgot I wasnt in Miss Kinnians class at the adult center any more like I use to be. I went in and sat down in my old seat in the back of the room and she lookd at me funny and she said Charlie where have you been. So I said hello Miss Kinnian Im redy for my lessen today only I lossed the book we was using.
  • Lying a lot helps a lot. Try, say, cheating on your S.O. with a disastrous divorce as a consequence and just keep track of all the particulars of the lies you tell. It's as much or more conditioning and impetus as it is genes.
  • It wasn't like the fucking rodents weren't gaining the upper hand again already. Now were going to make them smarter. They damn near took over 700 years ago with the plague thing, but we beat them back. Now were going to help them remember more? Shit, it'll be like dealing with the Rat Things in Starman's Son; furry vermin with spears and the racial memory of millions of rat traps and kids with .22s.

One small step for man, one giant stumble for mankind.

Working...