A research team based out of the University of California Los Angeles has been looking at the differences between mice brains and human brains to help determine how research that relies on mice models can be more accurate and effective in the future.
What they found was that astrocytes in mice are more resilient when it comes to fighting oxidative stress in the brain than humans are. Astrocytes are a type of brain cell and are instrumental for communication between neurons. When there is a lack of oxygen in the brain, these cells can begin to die, causing memory loss, cognitive decline, and an overall lack of functioning, consistent with several types of dementia.
But mice are less likely to experience this than humans are. The big question is, why?
Researchers still don’t know a lot about astrocytes, so this will remain an ongoing area of study. They do know that astrocytes are critical for development within the brain, especially as the person ages. Learning more about why mice do not experience this like humans do may lead to a better understanding of how to treat dementia. Only time will tell how helpful this will be.
If you are a repeat visitor to this blog, you have more than likely seen a post or two that referenced research done using mice as subjects. That’s because mice are similar to humans in many ways and often respond to medical stimuli in the same fashion that humans do. Additionally, they progress through these things much faster than humans do, allowing researchers to see results very quickly. They also happen to be quite small, so thousands of mice can be used in an experiment without placing a lot of stress on researchers for finding adequate space.
However, this new study sheds some light on why experiments done with mice models don’t always see the same results when it comes to humans–especially when it comes to brain degeneration. A lot of Alzheimer’s research has been conducted on mice with very promising results, but those results don’t tend to translate to humans with the same efficacy. Unfortunately, researchers now know one of the reasons why this is.
That does not mean that there’s no hope for Alzheimer’s research. It also doesn’t mean that mice cannot be used to help scientists learn more about the disease. There’s just a lot more that needs to be learned before this happens.
Until then, helpful senior care is necessary for those suffering from dementia. Many types of dementia are terminal and involve a slow decline in health, such as what those with Alzheimer’s disease experience. Having a skilled and knowledgeable caregiver to help your family navigate this time is important. It might not cure the disease, but it can certainly help make life better.
We’re here to help if you need it. Just give us a call if you have any questions and we can go over your situation during a free consultation. And if senior care is needed, we can help connect you with that, too.