An MIT biology professor may have found a new breakthrough in the quest to locate better treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The Boston Globe reports that Leonard Guarente and a team of researchers discovered that increasing the amount of a protein called SIRT1 can treat the mental illness in mice.
"Our work on developing compounds that can activate SIRT1 hopefully will be useful in treating Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative disorders," Guarente told the news provider.
Alzheimers disease is caused by the death of brain cells, which is believed to result from a buildup of protein fragments between nerve cells. This accumulation over time is what causes the effects seen in Alzheimer's patients.
According to the news source, SIRT1 has been found to assist the brain in learning and memory. While the results are encouraging, Guarente warned that it still has some ways to go to before it's tested on human subjects.
The National Institute on Aging reports that Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and recent data estimates that as many as 5.1 million Americans are suffering from the illness.