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Improving brain function in ageing monkeys

Injecting old monkeys with a natural protein can boost their brain function, potentially leading to new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

Research led by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), USA, looked at the effect of a ‘longevity’ protein known as klotho, which decreases in the body with age.

When old macaques were given a single injection of klotho, the researchers saw that the animals performed better at a memory task, compared to before the injection, indicating that their cognition had improved.

The decline of cognition – which involves acquiring knowledge and understanding through thoughts, experiences and senses – is frequently seen in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Although it is still not clear how klotho works on the brain, its success (it was previously shown to extend the lives of mice) means “there’s a very strong reason to jump into human clinical trials now”, Dena Dubal at UCSF told Nature.


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