Impacting Alzheimer Disease

More than five million Americans have Alzheimer disease and that number continues to climb. By 2050, the number could rise as high as 16 million. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology researchers are attacking the disease in three distinct ways through our Impacting Alzheimer initiative. Our scientific team is identifying new genetic causes, early detection tools and novel therapies to improve how we diagnosis, treat and ultimately prevent Alzheimer disease.

New Genetic Causes

HudsonAlpha is sequencing and analyzing thousands of samples to help learn more about the genetic causes of Alzheimer disease and dementia in collaboration with Dr. Ken Kosik, University of California Santa Barbara, and University of California San Francisco. These studies, funded by the M&M Program, have found new gene associations with Alzheimer disease and dementia. Our researchers now have new opportunities to access samples of early onset cases from South American families. The goal is to continue the research to identify new causative genes in Alzheimer disease and dementia.

Early Detection and Disease Monitoring

Early detection in neurodegenerative disease is very important in improving treatment outcomes. Using small RNA – short strands of ribonucleic acid – in blood plasma, HudsonAlpha researchers hope to leverage earlier findings with this method in colon cancer to find signs of disease at the earliest possible time. In addition, we will use our expertise in immunogenomics (applying genomic technologies to better understand the immune system) to aid in early detection. By analyzing the immune response found in the blood to generate a picture of health – something we call the immune repertoire – this may allow clinicians to detect disease long before symptoms appear. Both early detection tests can be used to scientifically monitor how well medications are working.

New Therapeutic Approaches

All genes have an “on/off” switch. Controlling how genes are turned on and off is an important process called gene regulation. Using knowledge from our successful program with another neurological disease, we are exploring gene regulation with Alzheimer disease and dementia. We are doing this by identifying all the “on/off” switches for known Alzheimer disease genes. By learning how to turn off the abnormal genes responsible for Alzheimer disease, our research may lead to completely new therapeutic approaches that could significantly slow or stop progression of Alzheimer disease and dementia.

The HudsonAlpha Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the supporting entity for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Tax-deductible contributions to the foundation are for the sole purpose of advancing the mission of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.

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