A research team at LSU Health New Orleans, led by Walter Lukiw, Ph.D., has been able to show that a protein found in the body, used to remove waste products from the brain and retina, isn’t only diminished in a brain diseased with Alzheimer’s, but also in age-related macular degeneration. The findings, published March 7, state that during the brain and retina’s normal day-to-day operations, they each produce large quantities of waste products. In order to not clog up the parts of our thinking and visual systems, these waste products must be cleared away. The paper says, “part of the waste disposal system consists of a very special waste-sensing transmembrane protein located in highly specialized cells called microglial cells found in the brain and retina.” This protein is referred to as a “triggering receptor expressed in microglia,” or more simply TREM2 protein. Dr. Lukiw says that their research has discovered a lowered amount of this TREM2 protein is found in age-related degenerative diseases of the brain, like Alzheimer’s, and age-related macular degeneration in the retina. The backup of waste caused by a lack of TREM2 protein contribute to insoluble lesions called senile plaques, which contribute to episodes of age-related inflammatory degeneration.
The team has also discovered a small piece of ribonucleic acid, called miRNA-34a, which is in part responsible for insufficient TREM2 protein. According to Dr. Lukiw, “the findings indicate that getting rid of the excessive miRNA-34a to restore normal TREM2 abundance may provide a highly effective therapeutic strategy for the treatment of both degenerative diseases of the brain and progressive diseases of the retina.”
New research and studies provided by The New England Journal of Medicine supports claims that early exposure in babies to peanuts and other allergy-causing foods is more likely to protect the child than cause them additional problems. The AP reports that in a study produced last year, researchers found “that the early prevention strategy leads to persistent, long-lasting results in children at risk for food allergies.”