Brain protein to be put under the microscope

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.

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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.