Brain protein to be put under the microscope

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Scientists are to study little-known proteins they believe contribute to diseases such as dementia and multiple sclerosis.

Biologists at the University of Portsmouth have been awarded £600,000 to research the impact on the ageing of the brain and cognitive decline.

The study will focus on the protein Kir4.1 which is key in controlling cells in the brain and spinal cord that form myelin, a substance which insulates the brain’s “wiring”.

They discovered that the protein is critical in ensuring these cells –oligodendrocytes – function well.

The research will start later this year and take three years. The results could help develop treatments for several brain diseases.