Dec 23, 2009 3:21 PM by Carina Corral
University of California, Santa Barbara researchers have made a major discovery that could lead the way for the development of new drugs to aid memory.
The team of scientists is the first to uncover a central process in how the brain encodes memories.
"When we learn new things, when we store memories, there are a number of things that have to happen," said Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director and Harriman Chair in Neuroscience Research, at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute. "One of the most important processes is that the synapses -- which cement those memories into place -- have to be strengthened."
It is a complex process, but what they ultimately found is that the degradation of proteins in the brain allows for the creation of new proteins.
"One reason why this is interesting is that scientists have been perplexed for some time as to why, when synapses are strengthened, you need to have proteins degrade and also make new proteins," said Kosik. "You have the degradation of proteins going on side by side with the synthesis of new proteins. So we have now resolved this paradox. We show that protein degradation and synthesis go hand in hand. The degradation permits the synthesis to occur. That's the elegant scientific finding that comes out of this."
Kosik is a leading researcher in the area of Alzheimer's Disease.
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