(With files by Darin Bain-MyPGNow)
Researchers at UNBC are working to learn the causes of brain aging, and how it could be slowed.
“Often when people think of their brain, they think of the nerve cells, but I actually look at the specialized cells that help support the nerve cells,” said Dr. Kendra Furber, UNBC Division of Medical Sciences Assistant Professor.
Myelin is fatty substance that covers the neurons in the brain and spinal cord, which insulates the connections between cells, and allowing information to flow through the nervous system.
Furber said they found the myelin is lost or degrades over life, and their research is looking at what may cause that degradation.
“We’re really curious about changes to fats in the myelin during aging,” Furber explained.
She said the brain can repair itself, and the myelin can be repaired but the brain’s ability to do so diminishes over time.
“One thing we’re looking at is diet, and certain fats in the diet, but there are other things we’re beginning to learn that help support the myelin, just other lifestyle factors,” Furber said.
“We’re also focused on specific molecules that we may be able to target for therapeutic intervention.”
Furber said the research is being done in collaboration with colleagues at the Canadian Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan.