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Research Grants - 2006


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Research Grants 2006


To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.

2006 Grant - Arfanakis

A Diffusion Tensor MRI Technique for Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease

Konstantinos Arfanakis, Ph.D.
Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago, Illinois

2006 New Investigator Research Grant

A major effort of Alzheimer's disease research is to develop procedures that will enable physicians to make a diagnosis early in the course of the disease. Early intervention may result in better treatment outcomes, particularly if new disease-modifying drugs become available.

The early stages of Alzheimer's disease involve the development of neurofibrillary tangles, abnormal structures that accumulate inside brain cells and are associated with cellular damage. These tangles can develop in nerve cells of the entorhinal cortex, a brain area critical for forming new memories. Neurofibrillary tangles damage long, thin cellular structures called axons. The axons of entorhinal nerve cells transmit messages through an area called the perforant pathway and into the hippocampus, a part of the brain important for learning and memory. Damage to these axons may lead to memory loss and cognitive decline.

Konstantinos Arfanakis, Ph.D., and colleagues believe that accurate detection of such damage may prove an important way of diagnosing Alzheimer's early in the course of the disease. For this study, the researchers will test a technology called diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI), which can reveal very small structures in brain tissue. They researchers hope to refine DT-MRI imaging techniques in order to detect alterations in the structural integrity of the entorhinal cortex and perforant pathway.

Dr. Arfanakis's team will then produce and compare brain scans of people with no cognitive deficits and people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI, a disorder generally defined as a measurable decline in memory with no other dementia symptoms, may be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's. The outcome of this work may lay the groundwork for new diagnostic tools.