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Cedars-Sinai awarded $2.5 million to study potential new drug treatments for Alzheimer's disease
Date:2/21/2012

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 20, 2012) A Cedars-Sinai research scientist has been awarded two national grants totaling more than $2.5 million, including a prestigious Research Project Grant from the National Institutes of Health to study potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease.

Terrence Town, PhD, is studying drugs that potentially could disrupt the formation and accumulation of sticky amyloid plaques that build up in the brain and are widely considered a root cause of Alzheimer's disease, a chronic and fatal condition that impairs memory and cognition. In the disease's final stages, patients require round-the-clock care.

Amyloid is an abnormal protein usually produced in the bone marrow that can be deposited in any tissue or organ. An unhealthy buildup of the protein is believed to lead to diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"Alzheimer's has the potential to bankrupt this country,'' said Town, PhD, the studies' principal investigator and research scientist in the Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute and the Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Neurosurgery. "It is the public health crisis of our time and the big question is: what are we going to do about it? Our approach is to target the body's immune system to clean up amyloid plaques and thereby allow brain regeneration."

The NIH grant totals more than $2 million over five years and is earmarked for the study of macrophages, common cells that circulate in the blood and are capable of clearing damaging substances, such as plaques.

"Our goal is to identify drugs that give the signal to macrophages to enter the brain and eat away at the amyloid plaque buildup," said Town, the Ben Winters Chair in Regenerative Medicine. "These macrophages have a central mission in life: to eat noxious substances. But because the brain is somewhat shielded from the immune system, peripheral macrophages are given the message not to go into the brain and eat the amyloid plaques.
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Contact: Sally Stewart
Sally.stewart@cshs.org
310-248-6566
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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