“This protein is present in the part of the brain in which memories are stored. We have found that in order for any memory to be laid down this protein, called the M3-muscarinic receptor, has to be activated.
“We have also determined that this protein undergoes a very specific change during the formation of a memory – and that this change is an essential part of memory formation. In this regard our study reveals at least one of the molecular mechanisms that are operating in the brain when we form a memory and as such this represents a major break through in our understanding of how we lay down memories.
“This finding is not only interesting in its own right but has important clinical implications. One of the major symptoms of Alzheimer's disease is memory loss. Our study identifies one of the key processes involved in memory and learning and we state in the paper that drugs designed to target the protein identified in our study would be of benefit in treating Alzheimer's disease.”
Professor Tobin said there was tremendous excitement about the breakthrough the team has made and its potential application: “It has been fascinating to look at the molecular processes involved in memory formation. We were delighted not only with the scientific importance of our finding but also by the prospect that our work could have an impact on the design of drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.”
Almost everyone is familiar with the Beatles' song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” but most people don't realize that Lucy was a real person and the subject of a childhood drawing by her kindergarten classmate, Julian Lennon. After hearing his son explain that the drawing depicts his friend Lucy in the sky with diamonds, John Lennon co-wrote the now classic song with fellow Beatle Paul McCartney. The story does not end there, however, and now has come full circle. Lucy Vodden passed away last September from complications of lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease she had struggled with since 2005
After learning of her death, Julian and fellow musician James Scott Cook decided to use the song, “Lucy,” which they were recording together, to raise awareness of lupus and generate funds for lupus research. Ironically, James' grandmother also is named Lucy and has lupus. Cook is convinced that the way the song fell into place was destiny.
The spring issue of the Lupus Foundation of America's (LFA) national magazine, Lupus Now(R), describes “Lucy's Legacy,” and includes photos of Lucy Vodden, Lucy Cook, James and Julian, and provides information on how funds generated from the sale of “Lucy” are being used by the LFA and St. Thomas' Lupus Trust in the United Kingdom to support lupus research. Lupus Now also includes practical tips for living with Sjogren's syndrome and Raynaud's disease, two conditions that often overlap with lupus. The issue also includes strategies for learning how to balance work, home, and social life when you have lupus, answers to diet and nutrition questions for people with lupus, and ways to cope with changes in cognitive function, another complication of lupus. Lupus Now is published three times per year by the Lupus Foundation of America. For additional information about the magazine and about lupus, visit the LFA website at www.lupus.org.