Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) regulates many processes including memory and learning in our daily tasks. Levels of BDNF are important in determining the outcome of these processes. BDNF also carries strong potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases which, among other things, affect memory and learning, such Alzheimer's.
MicroRNA-206 was in 2012 shown to down-regulate BDNF levels. When in the animal model of Alzheimer's disease the activity of microRNA-206 was blocked, BDNF levels rose and Alzheimer's disease features were alleviated. This is an important discovery since to date drugs able to cure Alzheimer's disease do not exist.
A team lead by Academy Research Fellow Jaan-Olle Andressoo at the Institute of Biotechnology in University of Helsinki, Finland, screened for new microRNAs involved in the regulation of BDNF levels. The team identified four new microRNAs: microRNA-1, microRNA-10b, microRNA-155 and mcrioRNA-191, all of which were able to regulate BDNF levels.
These results enable future studies in Alzheimer's and other disease models and highlight the importance of basic research which precedes drug-discovery, says Jaan-Olle Andressoo.