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A new approach to Alzheimer's disease research
Date:6/4/2014

As part of its ongoing research to better understand the complexities of the human brain, the Allen Institute for Brain Science is embarking on the first effort to map connectivity patterns across the whole brain in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, through its recent award of a $3.4 million grant over five years from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.

"Many studies on Alzheimer's disease focus on just one or a small number of areas in the brain, such as the hippocampus, for its role in memory," says Julie Harris, Assistant Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and primary investigator on the grant. "By studying connections across the entire cortex in both normal mice and mouse models of the disease, we hope to finally make the breakthroughs that will help us understand the pathways through which Alzheimer's disease spreads, and what interventions we can make against its progression."

According to the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer's disease is characterized by diminishing memory and thinking skills, affecting as many as 5.1 million Americans, most over the age of 60. The causes of Alzheimer's disease are still largely unknown, though they are likely a combination of genetic, environmental and other factors.

So far, clinical trials for drugs developed in mouse models that typically focus on individual brain areas have yielded poor results. "Our expanded view of the disease that looks at connections across the whole brain will hopefully improve mouse models and their use in translational research to identify drugs and treatments that work in humans," says Harris.

The whole-brain model of Alzheimer's builds on the Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas, recently profiled in the journal Nature , which allows researchers to quantitatively analyze connections across the entire mouse brain.

Harris and her colleagues plan to expand the resource by focusing
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Contact: Steven Cooper
steven.cooper@edelman.com
415-486-3264
Edelman Public Relations
Source:Eurekalert

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