Scientists at the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Walter Reed Army Institute for Research have discovered a genetic link that could foster future treatments for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Alzheimer’s disease.
The research involves pieces of genetic material called microRNA (miRNA) biomarkers, which “play a critical role in normal gene expression,” the institute said in a press release. Levels of miRNA that are abnormal or not normally regulated are linked to a host of maladies and disorders in TBI patients.
The scientists studied more than 800 miRNA examples among TBI patients, and determined that its dysregulation led to increased amounts of a certain enzyme that is a progenitor to neurological disease and loss of brain cells.
“MiRNAs are increasingly recognized as mediators of injury,” said Dr. Angela M. Boutte, section chief of molecular biology and proteomics at the institute. More research into the role miRNAs play in TBI is forthcoming.