Fairfax, Va. (Sept. 25, 2007) George Mason University professor of psychology, Raja Parasuraman, has received a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct research regarding the detection and prevention of Alzheimer's disease. His program, "Apolipoprotein, Attention and Alzheimer's disease," will annually test more than 500 middle-aged and older adults for four years using cognitive, genetic and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests to identify precursors of Alzheimer's disease.
According to the Alzheimer's Association, cases of Alzheimer's in the United States have risen from two million to five million in the last 10 years. By the year 2050, approximately one in every 45 Americans will be afflicted.
"The incidence of Alzheimer's is undergoing explosive growth," says Parasuraman. "In an effort to control this rapid growth, a major approach has been to examine individuals who are not affected, but who have an increased genetic risk for developing the disease later in life."
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) is an inherited gene that has been closely linked to the development of Alzheimer's. Though APOE is the strongest known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's, only half of its carriers develop the disease by age 80. Parasuraman hopes to make advancements in early detection by identifying markers sensitive to APOE.
The five-year project will closely examine the effects of APOE on attention and memory in three groups of healthy adults -- ages 18 to 29, 40 to 59, and 60 to 75. Through a previously established collaborative relationship with a research group at the University of Oslo in Norway, one of the studies will be carried out by Ivar Reinvang, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the university. The older group will be tested at the University of Oslo because of the greater frequency of the APOE gene in Northern Europe.
"Though a project of this magnitude will take a great deal of time, eff
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George Mason University