Global AD-DS Grantee Publishes Research


Karen Chang, PhD uses $300,000 grant co-funded by Global, Crnic Institute and Alzheimer’s Association to examine age-dependent memory loss

Global is dedicated to supporting research focused on the important relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome. To this end, Global has co-organized and co-funded the Down Syndrome-Alzheimer’s Disease Investigator Program with the Crnic Institute and the national Alzheimer’s Association.

In 2013, Karen T. Chang, PhD, received one of the grants and was awarded $300,000 to study the functional protein interactions in Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome.

In August of 2015, the results of the research co-funded by Global were published in the distinguished publication The Journal of Neuroscience. Chang along with Jillian L. Shaw and Shixing Zhang used fruit flies to study the mechanisms underlying age-dependent memory impairment. Their results show the fly homolog of the Down syndrome critical region 1 is important for normal short-term memory (STM) and interacts genetically with the amyloid-precursor protein (APP) to protect against APP-induced STM defects. In addition, the results indicate that Nebula upregulation also effectively protects against APP-induced long-term memory defects.

The scientific world now understands nearly all people with Down syndrome will have the “brain pathology” of Alzheimer’s disease by the time they are in their 40s (i.e. they will have the plaques and tangles in their brain that appear in the brains of typical people with Alzheimer’s disease). The question intriguing the scientific field is why only an estimated 50 percent will get the actual symptoms of dementia associated with the disease. If scientists can understand what is protecting this population from dementia they may be able to identify targets or even a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2012, Global helped to recruit the world renowned Alzheimer’s disease scientist, Huntington Potter, PhD to the Crnic Institute. Dr. Potter is integral to the collaboration with the national Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, Global helped Dr. Potter to establish the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center with a subspecialty in Down syndrome.

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