It’s an exciting find in the field of regenerative medicine. Researchers report that injecting mice with a protein found in human umbilical cord blood can improve their memory.
Researchers have found a protein in human umbilical cord blood that improved learning and memory in aging mice.
It’s a protein called tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases 2, or TIMP2, that is found in the blood of young humans and most copiously in umbilical cord blood.
Injecting TIMP2 alone into aged mice revitalized their hippocampi, improving neural plasticity and performance on several memory tests.
Stanford regenerative scientist Tony Wyss-Coray said, “TIMP2 came as a complete surprise.” “While it may be a challenge to figure out how this protein works at the molecular level, the trade-off may be its broad activity.”
TIMP2 appears to have “quite an important function,” Wyss-Coray said, and “could almost be a master regulator” of processes that are key to aging.
The science is in very early stages now. Wyss-Coray says they’ll now study TIMP2 in animals bred to imitate the effects of human brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Now, first author Joseph Castellano and colleagues have broached the question of, “Does this work in humans?” They asked if rejuvenating factors can be identified in young human plasma, such as from umbilical cords.
The study by Castellano and colleagues, he says, is an “excellent” starting point.
“The only thing, of course, is that it’s a mouse experiment and mouse experiments often don’t actually translate faithfully into the human setting,” he says.
The results are published in the journal Nature.