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Do bees hold the key?

10 July 2012

Do bees hold the key?

New research conducted on bees has shown that increased social activity can reverse brain aging. This could signal the beginning of a new way of thinking when it comes to researching new treatment in the fight against dementia.
This new research, carried out at Arizona State University, involved removing the younger bees from the hive so, when the foraging bees returned, some would be forced to look after the nest.

The results showed that after just 10 days, 50% of the older bees that had started caring for the nest significantly improved their ability to learn new things. Researchers then compared the two groups of bees and discovered a change in proteins found in their brains.

Gro Amdam, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences said, “We knew from previous research that when bees stay in the nest and take care of larvae – the bee babies – they remain mentally competent for as long as we observe them. After just two weeks, foraging bees have worn wings, hairless bodies, and more importantly, lose brain function – basically measured as the ability to learn new things.”

This could be just the start of new ways to deal with dementia, as the proteins identified are also found in humans, meaning that increased social interaction may be the key to maintaining brain function. It has been said that further studies are needed to confirm this new theory but we could be on the way to finding new methods to deal with dementia.