Early and profound memory loss is a primary symptom of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). By the year 2050, more than 11 million elderly Americans will suffer from the disease. Catherine Kaczorowski, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department ofAnatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received a $418,000 grant to further her research of Alzheimer’s disease and memory failure. The grant was awarded by the National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health, and will be funded over the next two years.
The grant, titled, “Mapping AD Memory Failure: Molecules to Connectivity of Brain Network,” will allow Dr. Kaczorowski and her team to employ a novel approach to identify new molecules that underlie unusual changes in the functional connectivity of neurons across multiple brain regions (i.e., network coherence) and monitor how these changes contribute to memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease. Overall, this project also aims to discover biomarkers that could be used to detect potential onset of Alzheimer’s disease in advance, so treatment could begin earlier with better success rates.
“Our recent data suggests that disruption of neural network coherence between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex underlies memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Kaczorowski. “To test this hypothesis, we will monitor network coherence between these areas in ‘normal’ and Alzheimer’s disease mice throughout their life span while they are performing memory tasks. The idea is to identify changes in functional connectivity that correspond to the onset of memory deficits. We will then use specific drug targeting and sophisticated gene therapy tools to treat abnormal neuronal activity and memory failure in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models. Outcomes of the proposed research have great potential to make a major impact on the identification of new treatments for both age-associated cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.”
If successful, this research could lead to the development of novel therapies that maintain cognitive function in the elderly and reduce the suffering experienced by dementia patients and their families.
The National Institute on Aging remains committed to understanding the aging process and prolonging life. It is the primary agency that supports and conducts Alzheimer’s research. For more information, visit www.nia.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.