The path to epigenetic treatment of memory disorders.

Neurobiology of learning and memory

PubMedID: 21320618

Mikaelsson MA, Miller CA. The path to epigenetic treatment of memory disorders. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2011;96(1):13-8.
A new line of neuroscience research suggests that epigenetics may be the site of nature and nurture integration by providing the environment with a mechanism to directly influence the read-out of our genome. Epigenetic mechanisms in the brain are a series of post-translational chromatin and DNA modifications driven by external input. Given the critical hub that epigenetics appears to be, neuroscientists have come to suspect its fundamental influence on how our minds change in response to our unique environment and, in turn, how these changes can then impact our future interactions with the environment. The field of learning and memory is becoming particularly interested in understanding the cognitive influence of epigenetics. With the majority of us working with an eye toward therapeutics, the question naturally arises: "Has neuroepigenetics gotten us closer to treating memory disorders and if so, where do we go from here?" This review will begin with a brief exploration of recent advances in our understanding of how epigenetic mechanisms contribute to learning and memory processes that are susceptible to failure. Next the implications for disorders of cognition, such as Alzheimer's disease, will be discussed. Finally, we will use parallels from the field of cancer to speculate on where we should consider heading from here in the pursuit of therapeutics.