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Medicine Science

Brain Aging Gene Discovered (neurosciencenews.com) 28

New submitter baalcat quotes a report from Neuroscience News: Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have discovered a common genetic variant that greatly impacts normal brain aging, starting at around age 65, and may modify the risk for neurodegenerative diseases. The findings could point toward a novel biomarker for the evaluation of anti-aging interventions and highlight potential new targets for the prevention or treatment of age-associated brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. In the current study, Drs. Abeliovich and Rhinn analyzed genetic data from autopsied human brain samples taken from 1,904 people without neurodegenerative disease. First, the researchers looked at the subjects' transcriptomes (the initial products of gene expression), compiling an average picture of the brain biology of people at a given age. Next, each person's transcriptome was compared to the average transcriptome of people at the same age, looking specifically at about 100 genes whose expression was found to increase or decrease with aging. From this comparison, the researchers derived a measure that they call differential aging: the difference between an individual's apparent (biological) age and his or her true (chronological) age. "This told us whether an individual's frontal cortex looked older or younger than expected," said Dr. Abeliovich. The researchers then searched the genome of each individual, looking for genetic variants that were associated with an increase in differential age. "One variant stood out: TMEM106B," said Dr. Rhinn. "It's very common. About one-third of people have two copies and another third have one copy." "TMEM106B begins to exert its effect once people reach age 65," said Dr. Abeliovich. "Until then, everybody's in the same boat, and then there's some yet-to-be-defined stress that kicks in. If you have two good copies of the gene, you respond well to that stress. If you have two bad copies, your brain ages quickly." The study has been published in the journal Cell Systems.
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Brain Aging Gene Discovered

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  • Sounds like the recipe for epidemic age-associated brain disorders - a person lapsing into an age-associated brain disorder will definitely cause stress, and then compound that with a lack of health care, and see what effect that has on that person's family

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Smoke more pot.

    A lot more.

    Works for me.

    Wait.

    Is this news?

  • Get off my genetic lawn!
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @09:55PM (#54048495) Homepage Journal

    Unless I'm missing something, the summary omits some pretty important details and in so doing, kind of misses the point.

    The protein in question is believed to be one cause of frontotemporal dementia (and possibly ALS). If I understand the UniProtKB page [uniprot.org] (skimming), the gene codes for a protein that is supposed to degrade over time, but in some people, it doesn't, and as a result, it builds up in brain cells. This, coupled with other genes that don't suppress production sufficiently, is believed to speed the deterioration of spindle neurons in the frontal and/or temporal lobes.

    More to the point, this is almost certainly unrelated to Alzheimer's, as spindle neurons are typically unaffected by that disease except perhaps in the final stages of the disease. I have no idea why that disease was mentioned in the summary, except that it is a common brain disorder that everybody would like to see cured.

    On the other hand, other forms of dementia are often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer's disease, so there's that....

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday March 15, 2017 @11:25PM (#54048835)

    I'm sure this little discovery wouldn't have any impact on your employment or insurance rate. [slashdot.org] -_-

    Has that bill been killed yet?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... starting at around age 65 ...

    At age 45, I wasn't so interested in having new experiences. At age 50, learning stuff takes longer and I can't remember casual facts such as what happens in a movie I saw 2 years ago. I am not looking forward to age 65.

    About one-third of people have two copies and another third have one copy.

    What about brain diseases caused by age or unknown agents? Until the ageing process is slowed, living longer just means more time forgetting my name.

  • Retirement (Score:2, Interesting)

    It seems to coincide with retirement age.

    Could it be that people who don't maintain an activity that requires a significant amount of mental activity begin to loose brain function. Just observing people who I know who have retired I have noticed a significant number of them have no significant interests. Once they retire they spend their days mostly sat watching TV, a very passive activity. It is these people who seem to loose their ability to cope with mental tasks, while others who have a hobby or some

    • by Anonymous Coward

      begin to loose brain function.

      Looks like you already have.

  • If you have access to your genomic data via 23andme or some other service, you can look up your own status on this. The relevant SNPs appear to be rs1990622 and rs6966915. In both cases, the "good" results are homozygous, and "bad" results are heterozygous.

  • Now they can finally start hiring older coders.

    It was just this one little thing that was holding them back the whole time!

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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