HudsonAlpha scientist gets grant to study the on-off switch for gene implicated in Alzheimer disease

A grant from the BrightFocus Foundation will bring $200,000 to the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology with the goal of better understanding one of the key genes implicated in causing Alzheimer disease.

Nick Cochran, PhD, was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship Award from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program to study the MAPT gene with the ultimate hope of learning how the gene is turned on and off. MAPT is the instruction set for a protein called tau. The accumulation of tau in the brain is linked to Alzheimer disease. If scientists can figure out what turns MAPT on and off, the gene could be deactivated to reduce tau and potentially help people with neurodegenerative disorders.

“I watched the devastating effects of neurodegenerative disease ripple through both sides of my family, which drew me to work in this field,” said Cochran, a senior scientist in the Rick Myers Lab at HudsonAlpha. “Now I have the chance to expand science’s grasp on one of the most important genes involved in these diseases.”

“We could make a real difference here.”

Read more at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology

Commonly-prescribed drugs could increase the risk of dementia, says a new study

New research suggests that regular use of certain types of commonly-prescribed drugs used to treat bladder conditions, Parkinson’s disease and depression, could significantly increase the risk of dementia in later life.

The study, carried out by experts from the University of Nottingham and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), found that there was nearly a 50% increased risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had used strong anticholinergic medication daily for three years or more.

Anticholinergic drugs help to contract and relax muscles. They work by blocking acetylcholine, a chemical that transmits messages in the nervous system.

Read more at the University of Nottingham

Alzheimer’s disease: Sex affects tau accumulation in the brain

The strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is the apolipoprotein E type 4 allele (ApoE ε4). Research presented by Manish Paranjpe at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) used positron emission tomography (PET) to show that women who are ApoE ε4 carriers and already experiencing mild cognitive impairment are more susceptible than men to tau accumulation in the brain.

“Sex plays an important role in Alzheimer’s disease risk, with females having a higher lifetime risk of developing the disease and an increased vulnerability to genetic risk factors,” points out Yun Zhou, who led the project at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. He explains, “This is the first study to demonstrate that sex modulates the effect of ApoE ε4 on brain tau depositing, measured using 18F-AV-1451-PET imaging, in the entorhinal cortex, amygdala, parahippocampal gyrus, and posterior cingulate of the brains of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Strikingly, females experience greater ApoE ε4-associated increases in brain tau deposition in these regions compared to their male counterparts.”

Read more at Eurekalert

Paranjpe M, Liu M, Paranjpe I, et al.