To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.
2017 Grants - Ali
Memory Deficits in Alzheimer’s Disease: In vivo Frontal Cortical Mechanisms
Farhan Ali, Ph.D.
Yale School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Research Fellowship (AARF)
Can studying nerve cell activity in the brains of living mice reveal new mechanisms that underlie memory problems in Alzheimer’s disease?
Nerve cells in the brain are organized into networks and communicate with each other using electrical and chemical signals. Nerve cell communication is essential for memory and other cognitive functions. Research suggests that brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, such as the build-up of beta-amyloid plaques, may promote abnormal nerve cell activity and contribute to memory problems. Until recently, it has been difficult to study changes in nerve cell activity in living brains. Farhan Ali, Ph.D., and colleagues have developed a method in which they install tiny head-mounted microscopes in mice allowing them to visualize changes in nerve cell activity in the living brain over extended periods of time.
Dr. Ali and team will install head-mounted microscopes in Alzheimer’s-like mice and record nerve cell activity while the mice are performing learning and memory tasks. The researchers will study how abnormal nerve cell activity relates to problems with memory function. The research team will also determine if treating the Alzheimer’s-like mice with a drug called Saracatinib can prevent or reverse abnormal nerve cell activity and cognitive decline. Saracatinib is an experimental cancer drug that is being re-purposed by the researchers at Yale to treat Alzheimer’s disease. A clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of Saracatinib in people with Alzheimer’s disease is currently underway. Results from the animal studies being done by Dr. Ali will provide important information on the mechanisms by which Saracatinib may help to improve brain function in Alzheimer’s disease.
The results of this work could provide new insight into how abnormal nerve cell activity may underlie memory problems in Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, studying how a potential drug treatment for Alzheimer’s affects nerve cell activity in the brains of living mice could provide a level of information only possible through animal studies. Ultimately, these findings could help accelerate the development of therapies to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease.