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Science Reporting

Protein responsible for cell death in Alzheimer’s disease in mice discovered

A group of researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Japan, discovered a new protein that is involved in Alzheimer’s disease. This protein, called CAPON, already known because it is linked to risk factors for other psychiatric disorders, facilitates the connection between the two known culprits of Alzheimer’s disease: amyloid plaques and Tau proteins.

The interactions between amyloid plaques and Tau proteins cause the death of brain cells, the first symptoms of dementia.

In their work, published in Nature Communications, the researchers explain how they identified the CAPON gene in the brain of a mouse, specifically they found the accumulation of CAPON in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is very important for memory. In the presence of amyloid plaques, the accumulation of CAPON was even greater.

By creating an artificial over-expression of CAPON in the brain of mice, researchers found that mice showed significant levels of neurodegeneration and hippocampal shrinkage.

Takaomi Saido, a RIKEN researcher and one of the authors of the study, states in relation to this discovery: “Neurodegeneration is complex but we think CAPON is an important mediator between amyloid-β and cell death. Breaking this link with a drug is a promising way to treat Alzheimer’s disease.”

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Science Reporting

Pregnancy in old age: journals contribute to the belief that it is possible

A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health shows that the most popular journals are used to showing pregnant celebrities at an advanced age without mentioning any risk regarding the same pregnancy in old age or related to the technologies and methods used today to achieve pregnancy when you are a certain age.

According to the study, these journals unconsciously contribute to the diffusion of the belief, on the part of women, that they can safely give birth even after a certain age and therefore to be able to postpone conception too easily.

“Age is just a number”: this is the cover title of one of these journals that, for example, is mentioned in the article presenting the study. In fact, as far as conception is concerned, age is not just a number but a risk factor well certified by various studies.

In this case, researchers looked at 416 journals, mostly aimed at women of reproductive age, and found that more than 120 different pregnant and elderly celebrities were mentioned on the cover. However, only two mentions of the risks with regard to pregnancy in old age were found.

One-third of advanced pregnancies concerned celebrities aged forty years or more and in almost all cases there was no mention of the interventions or methods used to achieve this pregnancy, such as in-vitro fertilisation or the need to donate gametes.

“It is often not reported that there are expensive and extraordinary measures, assisted reproduction technologies and risks associated with these pregnancies in old age,” reports Susan G. Kornstein, editor of the Journal of Women’s Health, in relation to the study.