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New insight into a common form of dementia

 

Narrator:      This is Science Today. Neurologists at the University of California, San Francisco have developed a model for how inherited genes contribute to a common type of dementia, called Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration, or FTLD. Researcher Aimee Kao modeled the disease in worms and found that genetic mutations inhibited the body's ability to produce sufficient levels of a protein called progranulin.

Kao:             One of the normal functions of progranulin is to slow the clearance of dying cells. So what we saw is that that process of clearance of that dying cell happened in about half the time it normally does, in proganulin mutants. In people who don't enough have progranulin.

Narrator:      Over time this accelerated the process of neurodegeneration and led to FTLD, which is the most common form of dementia in people under 65, second only to Alzheimer's disease.

Kao:              It takes us one step closer in being able to develop therapies, not just for FTLD but other neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.