As the population ages, Alzheimer’s disease is a major public health concern in the United States. An estimated 11 million to 16 million elderly will suffer from the disease by 2050. Aging is the most important risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not clear to what extent the molecular changes that underlie normal age-associated memory deficits contribute to dementia in Alzheimer’s disease. Catherine Kaczorowski, PhD, is exploring this concept.
An assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Dr. Kaczorowski received a five-year grant totaling $927,000 from the National Institute of Aging, a subsidiary of the National Institutes of Health, while at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. There, she completed the training portion of her study titled, “Proteomics of Memory Failure: Unraveling the Relationship Between ‘Normal’ Brain Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease.” When she joined UTHSC this year, she was awarded $737,720 in remaining funds from the initial grant to build her independent research program in Memphis.
Through research, Dr. Kaczorowski and her colleagues discovered that cellular changes in mice engineered to model the symptoms of aging and Alzheimer’s disease were similar, although the magnitude of change and impairment was greater in the Alzheimer’s model. The research team will seek to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying the development of memory deficits in the mice, and use gene therapy approaches to treat memory failure in the models of aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
“The goal of the laboratory is to identify early causative events that underlie cognitive deficits associated with ‘normal’ aging and Alzheimer’s disease, and transform these basic discoveries into treatments that prevent and cure dementias in aging,” said Dr. Kaczorowski. “To this end, we conduct multidisciplinary research with basic, translational, and clinical collaborators throughout the U.S. and abroad.”
If successful, this research may help identify new treatments using gene therapy to improve outcomes for patients suffering from memory deficits due to aging or Alzheimer’s disease.
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.