Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease are all characterized by the early death of brain cells but what makes brain cells give up the ghost? Researchers from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in the U.S. have been looking into the role of a gas called nitric oxide. The gas attaches itself to other molecules in the brain and was found to 'leap' from one set of proteins, called caspases, that normally start cell death to another protein XIAP that normally inhibits it. This is a double whammy for brain cells which are 'programmed' to die when either XIAP has nitric oxide attached to it or when caspases don't. If the scientists can find out how to stop nitric oxide transferring from one molecule to another that could be a breakthrough in the fight against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.
You can find out more about this research by clicking on the link in the title of this post.