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2007 Grant - Zhang
Initial Steps Toward Elucidating Gene Expression Regulation of Late-Onset Alzheimer's Disease
Weixiong Zhang, Ph.D.
St. Louis, Missouri
2007 New Investigator Research Grant
To date, only one gene has been firmly linked to late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of the disorder. A variant of this gene, called APOE-e4, has been found to increase the risk of acquiring Alzheimer's. However, many scientists believe that Alzheimer's disease may be caused by the interaction of numerous genes and gene variations.
Weixiong Zhang, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed a study to identify problems in gene transcription associated with Alzheimer's disease. Transcription is the process by which a gene is "activated" so that a cell begins producing the protein encoded by the gene. In Alzheimer's disease, the transcription process may be altered because of certain variations in a gene's code. Identity of problems in transcription may then lead to identifying risk-associated genes.
Dr. Zhang's team will conduct a genetic analysis of autopsied brain tissue from people who had Alzheimer's disease and from people who had no cognitive impairment. The study will first gather data on how various suspect genes had been transcribed in the brain samples. Researchers will then use this data to identify genes that may play a role in Alzheimer's.
Identification of additional risk-factor genes could help researchers understand the causes of Alzheimer's disease and clarify the role of disease mechanisms.