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Boosting Cognitive Function in Ageing Monkeys: A Promising Breakthrough with the 'Longevity Factor'

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A recent study published in Nature Aging has uncovered a potential breakthrough in our understanding of age-related cognitive decline. Scientists have discovered that injecting ageing monkeys with a protein called klotho, known as the "longevity factor," can enhance their cognitive abilities. This exciting finding may pave the way for new treatments targeting neurodegenerative diseases and provide hope for individuals suffering from cognitive disorders.



The study marks the first time that replenishing klotho levels has been shown to improve cognition in primates. Previous research conducted on mice demonstrated that klotho injections extended their lifespan and increased synaptic plasticity, which is the brain's ability to regulate communication between neurons. With the similarities between primates and humans, these findings suggest potential applications for treating cognitive disorders in humans, according to Marc Busche, a neurologist at the UK Dementia Research Institute.

Understanding the Impact of Klotho on Cognitive Function (Approximately 500 words)

To investigate the effects of klotho on cognitive abilities, researchers conducted tests on aged rhesus macaques. These monkeys, with an average age of 22 years, received a single injection of klotho. The study focused on spatial memory, which tends to decline with age. The monkeys had to remember the location of a hidden edible treat in a behavioral experiment.

Dena Dubal, a physician-researcher from the University of California, San Francisco, compared this test to remembering where you parked your car or recalling a sequence of numbers after a short period. Ageing typically impairs these tasks, making them more challenging.



Surprisingly, the monkeys exhibited significant improvements in their performance after receiving the klotho injections. Before the treatment, they correctly identified the hidden treat's location around 45% of the time. However, after the injection, their success rate increased to approximately 60%. These positive effects lasted for at least two weeks, indicating the potential long-term impact of klotho.

Interestingly, the study found that relatively low doses of klotho were effective in enhancing cognitive function. This suggests that the mechanisms behind the protein's actions are more complex than previously thought. Busche emphasizes the importance of delving deeper into these mechanisms to gain a more nuanced understanding of klotho's potential.

Exploring the Mechanism of Action (Approximately 600 words)

While the study offers promising results, researchers are still working to understand exactly how klotho enhances cognitive function and why its effects last for an extended period. One challenge is that klotho cannot easily cross the blood-brain barrier, making it difficult to determine its precise mode of action. To uncover the mechanism, scientists need to identify the intermediates involved in transmitting klotho's effects to the brain.

Dena Dubal explains that uncovering the precise mode of action of klotho is crucial, but it presents a challenge due to the protein's inability to penetrate the brain independently. Nevertheless, the study's findings have sparked hope among researchers and emphasize the need to expedite human clinical trials.

In a related study conducted by Gøril Rolfseng Grøntvedt and her team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, it was discovered that individuals with higher levels of naturally occurring klotho experience less cognitive impairment in cases of Alzheimer's disease. This finding opens up the possibility that artificially increasing klotho levels could have beneficial effects on cognitive function.

The Future of Klotho Research and Clinical Potential

Although the study on ageing monkeys represents a significant advancement, further research is essential to address remaining questions and fully unlock the potential of klotho in clinical applications. Scientists need to investigate the specific mechanisms by which klotho improves cognitive function, explore its interaction with the brain, and identify the intermediates that facilitate its effects.

Gøril Rolfseng Grøntvedt emphasizes the importance of gaining a deeper understanding of how klotho works to fully harness its clinical potential. Armed with this knowledge, researchers can develop targeted therapies that utilize the power of klotho to combat neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive disorders.

The groundbreaking findings of this study provide hope for the millions of people worldwide affected by age-related cognitive decline. Although human clinical trials may be a while away, the potential for klotho-based treatments to revolutionize the field of neurodegenerative diseases is immense.

Conclusion:

A recent study on ageing monkeys has uncovered a promising breakthrough in our understanding of age-related cognitive decline. By injecting these monkeys with the klotho protein, researchers successfully enhanced their cognitive abilities.

While the exact mechanisms and long-term effects of klotho are still being explored, this study provides hope for potential treatments targeting neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive disorders. The observed cognitive improvements in ageing monkeys offer compelling evidence for the potential application of klotho-based therapies in humans.

Further research is necessary to unravel the intricate workings of klotho and its interaction with the brain. Understanding the precise mode of action will enable scientists to develop targeted interventions that could mitigate the effects of age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.



As we move forward into a future where neurodegenerative diseases pose an increasing threat, the findings of this study invigorate the pursuit of effective treatments. The quest to unlock the secrets of klotho continues, holding the promise of a brighter future for those affected by cognitive decline.

From: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-02214-3

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