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By disabling a protein in the brain’s blood vessels, researchers ease age-related deterioration in mice

Disabling a certain protein in older mice improved the function of their brain cells and their performance on cognitive tests.

Scientists have shown that delivering blood from an old mouse into a young mouse or vice versa prompts a sort of “Freaky Friday” effect: The brains of the young mice exposed to the old blood lose vitality, while the young blood rejuvenates some brain function in the older mice.

What they don’t know, however, is what makes those transformations occur. On Monday, scientists reported they had latched on to a protein made by the blood vessels as a key player in how older blood seems to induce cellular damage inside the brain.

What’s more, they found that disabling the protein in older mice improved the function of their brain, published in the journal Nature Medicine, points to the protein, called VCAM1, as a possible target for a therapy for neurocognitive disorders.

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