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Research Grants 2011


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

2011 Grants - Legleiter

Mechanisms and Consequences of Beta-Amyloid Binding to Cellular Surfaces

Justin Legleiter, Ph.D.
West Virginia University Foundation
Morgantown, West Virginia

2011 New Investigator Research Grant

Because age is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, scientists have examined age-related changes in the brain that might reveal more about how the disease begins and progresses. One such age-related change involves alterations to the surface structure of brain cells. These changes may make neurons more vulnerable to the toxic effects of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment implicated in Alzheimer's pathology or brain changes.

Justin Legleiter, Ph.D., and colleagues have found that both electrical and chemical changes to brain cell surfaces may enable beta-amyloid to bind to these surfaces more easily. Such binding, they hypothesize, can lead to neuronal damage and death.

For this grant, the researchers will test their hypothesis using laboratory cell cultures under controlled conditions. They plan to expose beta-amyloid to both normal cells and cells in which age-related changes have been artificially induced. Then, using sophisticated scanning techniques, the team will determine how the physical properties of these cells may make them more or less susceptible to beta-amyloid binding and toxicity. Such properties include the elasticity of the cellular surface. Dr. Legleiter and colleagues hope that this research will shed new light on how beta-amyloid affects the progression of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.