By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Scientists believe they have isolated a circulating protein in the blood that may impair learning and memory.

In a report in the journal Nature Medicine, the authors say the protein increases with age. Scientists also believe there may be a way to attack this protein and it could be targeted to prevent age related memory loss.

They’re looking at what is called the normal decline in memory associated with aging. That is opposed to memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s or other conditions.

A progressive decline in learning and memory as well as reduction in the birth of new neurons is associated with aging, and they say the protein associated with immune function called b2 microglobulin accumulates in the blood.

When studied in mice, b2m is elevated in the blood and increases with age. The same effect occurs in humans.