Technology developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin could significantly reduce the time and cost to finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease and help answer one of the greatest biological questions: why do we age?
The research, led by Cockrell School of Engineering Associate Professor Adela Ben-Yakar and College of Natural Sciences Assistant Professor Jon Pierce-Shimomura, aims to prevent degeneration of the nervous system, which occurs through natural aging and diseases like Alzheimer's.
Degeneration has become a pervasive and growing problem in the last century due to new treatments that extend lifespan but cannot prevent neurological decline. This year alone, 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, and every 69 seconds another American develops the disease, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The toll of the disease extends beyond those living with it. It impacts their families, caretakers and society, which will pay $183 billion this year to care for people with Alzheimer's.
"We can treat cancer when we diagnose it on time and maybe find solutions for heart problems, but when it comes to the brain we don't have many effective solutions," said Ben-Yakar, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. "[Neurodegeneration] is a big problem for all of humanity. As an engineer, it excites me to find new ways of doing things, but the end result is what really motivates me and my colleague."
Ben-Yakar and Pierce-Shimomura were selected late last month to receive a competitive $3 million Transformative Research Projects Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for their research.
The grants are part of a $143.8 million funding initiative provided by NIH this year to 79 researchers around the nation, including Biomedical Engineering Professor Aaron Baker, who received the New Innovator award.
"The awards are intended to catalyze giant leaps forward for any area of bio
|Contact: Melissa Mixon|
University of Texas at Austin