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2007 Grant - Van Dyck
Amyloid Binding in Subjects at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease
Christopher Hans Van Dyck, M.D.
New Haven, Connecticut
2007 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Many factors affect an individual's risk for developing Alzheimer's disease, and inherited genes are one important factor. One of the genes known to be a risk factor for development of the disease is the epsilon 4 variant of the gene APOE. Studies of brain tissue in persons who have died have shown that persons carrying the APOE-e4 gene have greater accumulation of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that is a primary component of the amyloid plaques seen in the Alzheimer brain.
Recently, new methods have been developed that enable researchers to detect beta-amyloid deposited in the brains of living persons. Christopher van Dyck, M.D., and colleagues have proposed using these methods to study the relationship between the APOE-e4 gene and deposition of beta-amyloid in the brains of healthy persons. These studies involve imaging of the brain by positron emission tomography (PET) and the use of a tracer that detects beta-amyloid.
The researchers will study healthy, cognitively normal persons who have a family history of Alzheimer's disease, some of whom also carry the APOE-e4 gene. They will perform imaging studies of the participants' brains to determine if the APOE-e4 gene is associated with earlier or more extensive deposition of beta-amyloid. These studies will test whether the risk of Alzheimer's disease associated with the ApoE-epsilon4 gene can be detected at very early stages. This work could lead to a new diagnostic modality to detect early stages of the disease process before deterioration of brain function can be measured by traditional methods.