Thursday, March 9, 2017

MOUSE LEMURS’ ROLE IN NEW ALZHEIMER’S HYPOTHESIS

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Duke Lemur Center

Lemurs aren’t just cute, they’re crucial

Why are lemurs so special? Here’s just ONE reason: Because non-invasive research on grey mouse lemurs has helped shed light on devastating human diseases like Alzheimer’s: https://today.duke.edu/2017/03/jumping-genes-suspected-alzheimers.
Like humans, mouse lemurs develop amyloid brain plaques and other Alzheimer’s-like symptoms as they age. Studying these tiny primates has helped lead to a new hypothesis from the lab of Anne Yoder, a biology professor at Duke University and Director of the Duke Lemur Center, and rethinking how to treat people with diseases like Alzheimer’s. If the lab’s hypothesis holds up, “it could help identify people at risk sooner, before they develop symptoms, or point to new ways to delay onset or slow progression of the disease.”
So the moral of the story is, lemurs aren’t just cute; they’re crucial for research! Because they’re primates, they’re a closer genetic match to humans than mice or rats are — and their unique contributions to science are just one of MANY reasons we should protect these extraordinary animals and learn everything we can about them.

Resources

Read more about the Yoder lab’s new hypothesis in “Jumping Genes Suspected in Alzheimer’s: Mechanism might explain initial states of neurodegenerative disease” published in Duke Today on March 8, 2017. 
Or, read the paper itself in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association: “The Alu Neurodegeneration Hypothesis: A primate-specific mechanism for neuronal transcription noise, mitochondrial dysfunction, and manifestation of neurodegenerative disease.”
All DLC research is non-invasive, meaning that we do not allow research that will harm our animals. Learn more about the Duke Lemur Center’s research program here.
In 2011, the blog That’s Basic Science! described in easily understandable terms (for non-scientists!) why “the mighty mouse lemur” is an ideal candidate for Alzheimer’s research. Note that this article was written before the Duke Lemur Center began working with mouse lemurs, and that now there IS a lab outside of Europe researching these tiny animals: The Yoder lab right here at Duke!

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