• UCAS and NTU Singapore’s research agreement will cover a timespan of five years.

UCAS and NTU Singapore’s research agreement will cover a timespan of five years. (Photo : Getty Images)

Scientists in Manchester revealed that they and their Chinese colleagues found a new approach to exploring the causes of neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases are currently becoming big killers in today's generation.

The University of Manchester reported that the new study has found out that disabling a part of brain cells that act as a tap in regulating the flow of proteins has been shown to cause neurodegeneration.

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"Our findings provide new insight into the mechanisms that cause death of nerve cells within the brain, and are relevant for our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as ataxia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's disease," said Professor Martin Lowe, the lead researcher of the team.

Lowe stated that this improved understanding may be exploited in the future for the development of novel therapies for these devastating neurodegenerative diseases.

The research focused on the Golgi apparatus, a compartment inside all cells in the body that is in charge of controlling the processing and transport of proteins. It is a fundamental factor for growing cell membrane and releasing many essential proteins such as those that make up human skeletons, hormones and neurotransmitters.

The Manchester researchers and their Chinese colleagues examine the role of the Golgi apparatus in brain cells through carrying out the research in mice. They found out that mice with the apparatus disabled suffered from developmental delay, severe ataxia and postnatal death.

Ataxia is a medical term for a group of disorders that affects speech, balance and coordination. People who have ataxia often have difficulties with speaking, swallowing, walking and balancing. It even affects writing, eating and vision capabilities. It can be either inherited genetically or be caused by incidents such as stroke

Lowe said: "Our results, combined with previous work, suggest that during the cellular changes that occur, loss of the Golgi function could be an important intermediary step that contributes to cell death."

"Our findings suggest that in certain neurodegenerative diseases the loss of function of the Golgi apparatus may contribute to the pathology that is occurring," he added.