Sun Health Research Institute
Biomarkers are substances found in the body that can indicate the presence or extent of conditions such as MCI and AD. Research currently is prioritizing the study of biomarkers worldwide.
Sun Health Research Institute's (SHRI) Haldeman Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Biology, which is headed by Dr. Shen, led the study. In addition to the research team at SHRI, Dr. Shen led collaborative teams at research centers in Munich, Germany and Mondal, Sweden.
"This discovery is exciting news for the millions of people who suffer from MCI and early stage Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Shen says. "The earlier we find the presence of this protein enzyme that serves as a biomarker, the sooner a diagnosis can be rendered and treatment can be prescribed which can slow or even halt the disease progression."
The study was conducted with the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) from almost 300 patients in Germany and Sweden to examine whether the enzyme BACE1, which helps to generate the toxic amyloid protein found in the brains of Alzheimer's victims, can be identified in much earlier stages of memory loss when it is more responsive to treatment.
"The results were overwhelmingly conclusive and were even replicated by an independent researcher in Sweden," Dr. Shen states.
According to Dr. Shen, the next step is to find a simpler way of detecting the BACE enzyme level with a blood test rather than a spinal tap.
Dr. Shen has earned respect worldwide for his promising research into Alzheimer's disease. Prior to this most recent discovery, Dr. Shen pioneered research that showed significantly elevated BACE1 enzyme levels in the brains of Alzheimer's patients trigger the development of the toxic amyloid ?-protein. He also found that amyloid ?-protein kills brain cells, or neurons, through a membrane protein containing a death signal that can trigger a cascade of destructive brain degeneration and lead to AD. His important findings - included in a progress report prepared by the National Institutes of Health for review by Congress -- not only will advance our understanding of pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease but also provide alternative therapeutic targets for Alzheimer's treatments. Currently, he is working with colleagues to develop an International Institute for Drug Discovery with Sun Health Research Institute and collaborating with academic institutions in China to form a Pan-Asian Center for new drug discovery.
For more than 20 years, Sun Health Research Institute has been a leader nationally and internationally in the effort to find answers to disorders related to aging including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, arthritis and prostate cancer. Since its founding in 1986, the Institute, together with its Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium partners, has been designated by the National Institutes of Health as one of just 29 Alzheimer's Disease Centers in the nation. SHRI's Cleo Roberts Center for Clinical Research takes laboratory discoveries to clinical trials that foster hope for new treatments. SHRI is affiliated with the Sun Health non-profit community healthcare network.
Contact: Linda Tyler 623/815-7600 or Linda.firstname.lastname@example.org