"We have shown that when nitric oxide (NO) a highly reactive free radical reacts with MEF2, MEF2 can no longer bind to and activate the genes that drive neurogenesis and neuronal survival," said Stuart Lipton, a professor at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) here.

The chemical ‘switch’ controls both the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells and the survival of existing nerve cells in the brain.

The switch that shuts off the signals that promote neuron production and survival is in abundance in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and stroke victims.

"The findings suggest that the development of a small therapeutic molecule could promote new brain cell growth and protect existing cells in several neurodegenerative disorders," Lipton added.

The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.

(Agencies)

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