Genetic Strategies There Is No Memory Gene

The more we learn about the brain, the more it becomes clear that there is no single "memory gene" that holds the key. A complex web of interacting genes, chemicals, and neurotransmitters is involved in an intricate dance to keep our brains ticking along accurately, and at the right pace.

Genetics is the holy grail of new technology in medicine. There is a lot of hype, which reaches a crescendo with every breakthrough, be it the cloning of sheep or a new treatment for breast cancer. But in my view, the hype is justified. An incredible number of diseases are primarily genetic in origin, and we have little to no idea as to how to treat them, except for therapies that treat the symptoms but not the disease itself. As our knowledge about human genetic structure and function grows, more and more genetically engineered treatments will emerge. Eventually, some of our science fiction fantasies will be transformed into human reality.

A large part of the human genome, or genetic map, focuses on controlling protein synthesis within the brain. As of now, we do not know which genes are responsible for triggering the process of neuronal degeneration and death in the hippocampus and frontal lobes, or for that matter any other part of the brain. It is likely that we all possess both ''good memory genes" and "bad memory genes," and once we discover them we will be able to directly tackle the problem of age-related memory loss that affects most of us as we grow older.

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