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University of Kentucky explores links between Alzheimer's, Down syndrome
Date:11/8/2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 8, 2013) Donna Wilcock of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging is the lead investigator on a recently-funded project exploring the links between Alzheimer's disease and Down Syndrome. Elizabeth Head, also of Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, is a co-investigator on the project.

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the Alzheimer's Association, and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome have awarded $1.2 million in research grants to five scientists for innovative investigations that explore the development of Alzheimer's disease in individuals with Down syndrome. The goal is to eventually translate the findings into improved treatments for all people with Alzheimer's. Wilcock has received $150,000 of the funding, and was one of five selected for funding from among 50 applicants.

Alzheimer's Disease and Down Syndrome

Alzheimer's is a fatal, progressive, degenerative brain disease that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder whereby a person has three copies of chromosome 21 instead of two. This chromosome also contains the gene that encodes the amyloid precursor protein (APP). APP is cleaved to form beta-amyloid, which is the primary component of plaques a lesion found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's that many scientists believe is part of the cause of the disease.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Down syndrome occurs in 1 out of 691 infants in the United States. Due to improved clinical care, people with Down syndrome are now regularly living into their sixth decade of life, which leads many to develop dementia due to Alzheimer's. Autopsy studies show that by age 40 years, the brains of almost all individuals with Down syndrome have significant levels of plaq
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Contact: Allison Elliott-Shannon
allison.elliott@uky.edu
University of Kentucky
Source:Eurekalert

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