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2008 Grants - Maher
Fisetin and Derivatives as Neuroprotective Drugs for Alzheimer's Disease
Pamela Maher, Ph.D.
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, California
2008 Investigator-initiated Research Grant
Fisetin is a member of the flavonoid family of molecules, and is found in strawberries and other fruits and vegetables. Fisetin was discovered by Pamela Maher, Ph.D., who has also found evidence that fisetin can protect nerve cells from some forms of damage. Additional studies have shown that fisetin may also enhance cognition, reduce inflammation in the brain, and prevent the formation of beta-amyloid fibrils in the brain, a key pathologic feature of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Maher and colleagues have proposed studies to extend our knowledge of fisetin and closely related compounds, with the goal of identifying drugs that may be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. As a first step in this process, the researchers plan to create several new chemical compounds by making slight modifications to the fisetin molecule. The goal of this step is to create a series of molecules with the beneficial effects of fisetin and which have ideal chemical and medicinal properties for use as drugs.
After creating a series of fisetin-related compounds, Dr. Maher and colleagues plan to test the compounds using a series of tests that reveal their ability to protect nerve cells, reduce formation of beta-amyloid fibrils, and enhance nerve cell function. Finally, the researchers plan to take the most promising compounds and test their ability to halt or prevent Alzheimer-like degeneration in animals of Alzheimer's disease. These studies are key steps in the development of fisetin-related drugs as potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease in humans.