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Research Grants 2011


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

2011 Grants - Astarita

Lipidomic Biosignature in Alzheimer's Disease

Giuseppe Astarita, D. Sc.
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Medical Center Office of Sponsored Research
Georgetown University School of Medicine

Washington DC

2011 New Investigator Research Grant

An important goal of research in Alzheimer's disease is to find a way to detect disease at very early stages, when treatments may be available to prevent disease progression. Achieving this goal is difficult to achieve if detection or diagnosis requires collection of tissue samples from the brain, which is not possible without damaging brain function.

Some risk factors for Alzheimer's disease are related to how the body manages fats, cholesterol and related molecules, collectively known as lipids. For example, one of the strongest known risk factors for late-onset Alzheimer's disease is a genetic variation in a protein involved in the transport and storage of lipids. When defects in lipid metabolism are implicated in the risk of disease, it is possible that evidence of disease may be present in non-brain tissues, such as the blood, fat cells or other tissues.

Giuseppe Astarita, D.Sc. and colleagues are studying ways to detect early evidence of Alzheimer's disease by examining pathologies or brain changes related to lipid metabolism in non-brain tissues. The researchers will examine brain tissues from persons who died of Alzheimer's disease and compare the results to biochemical and pathology or changes to the brain studies of non-brain tissues from the same persons. The goal of this phase of research is to identify and characterize pathologic features of non-brain tissues that predict the presence of Alzheimer's pathology in the brain. Dr. Astarita and colleagues also plan to study how defects in lipid metabolism cause pathologies or changes in the brain leading to Alzheimer's disease. These studies may help to identify previously unknown causes of disease, and they may uncover new ways to detect Alzheimer's disease in the early stages.