A study has found a new approach to Alzheimer's disease (AD), which may eventually make it possible to reverse memory loss. The loss of memory is a hallmark of the disease in its later stages. Led by University at Buffalo scientists, it found that by focusing on gene changes caused by influences other than DNA sequences-called epigenetics-it was possible to reverse memory decline in an animal model of the disease. Senior author Zhen Yan said that they not only identified the epigenetic factors that contribute to memory loss but also found ways to temporarily reverse them in an animal model of the disease. Watch video: The study which was published in the journal Brain was conducted on mouse models carrying gene mutations for familial AD-where more than one member of a family has the disease-and on post-mortem brain tissues from AD patients. "We found that in Alzheimer's disease, many subunits of glutamate receptors in the frontal cortex are down-regulated, disrupting the excitatory signals, which impairs working memory," Yan said. The researchers also found that the loss of glutamate receptors is the result of an epigenetic process known as repressive histone modification, which is elevated in AD. Researchers found this both in the animal models they studied and in post-mortem tissue of AD patients. Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, eventually hampers the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. AD is the most common form of dementia. There are no available treatments that stop or reverse the progression of AD, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death.