The Sidell-Kagan Foundation has awarded a $300,000 grant to City of Hope to study the genetic factors that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
The grant will support research into the underlying biological processes involved in the death of brain cells and the breakdown of the connections among them. Scientists speculate that this neurodegenerative process is responsible for the senile plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
“This grant will help accelerate the investigation into a disease that has remained a mystery to scientists for over a century,” said Paul Salvaterra, Ph.D., professor in Beckman Research Institute’s Division of Neurosciences, who is principal investigator of the study. “Studies like ours will potentially uncover the origins of the disorder and help enhance treatment and contribute to the search for a cure.”
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million people in the United States have the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities.
Scientists have identified genetic mutations associated with many neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, but researchers have not yet been able to translate this knowledge into treatment. Salvaterra and his team have developed a new strategy aimed at uncovering the genetic networks that determine the behavior of specific neurons. Understanding the different patterns of gene expression may help scientists make the link between genetic mutation and disease; with this knowledge, researchers will be in a better position to develop new treatments.
“Without a cure or effective treatments that delay the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s disease, the prevalence will continue to rise as our population ages,” said Jerilee Nickerson, a director of the Sidell-Kagan Foundation. “Our foundation supports the groundbreaking work of researchers like Dr. Salvaterra, and leading institutions like City of Hope, to help uncover new insights into the causes, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s.”
Founded in 1996, the Sidell-Kagan Foundation promotes research into the causes, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease and related neurological disorders.