Alzheimer's is a devastating disease known to cause memory loss, thinking and behavioral problems that worsen over time. Currently Alzheimer's does not have any known cures, but Alzheimer's disease is heavily studied by researchers across the nation, and millions of dollars are given to Alzheimer's researchers annually to work towards better understanding the onset and function of the disease to lead to potential treatments and cures.
A team of researchers from the UC Davis Medical Center have received a five-year, $5.4 million grant from the National Institute on Aging to study the earliest stages of cognitive dysfunction through the use of event-related brain potential (ERPs).
ERPs are used to study the different electrical signals that the brain produces during different events. Through the use of ERPs, researchers are able to detect signs of synaptic dysfunction (an early feature of Alzheimer's disease) through measuring the output of functioning neurons.
In this current study, researchers from the University of California, Davis Medical Center in collaboration with UC San Diego will test ERPs in over 200 participants who are either healthy, have pre-clinical Alzheimer's, mild Alzheimer's dementia, or mild cognitive impairment to test the potential of using ERPs as a biomarker to see the progression of Alzheimer's in clinical trials.
UC Davis Professor of Neurology and co-leader of the UC Davis Alzheimer's Disease Center, John Olichney, explained that “what we will be doing is a very comprehensive cognitive electrophysiology battery," Olichney said. "It will test attention, memory and language. Rarely have such a broad range of ERP components been tested in the same Alzheimer’s patient cohort. We predict that this comprehensive ERP battery will be particularly sensitive to the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease, including its so-called “preclinical” stage.”
With the help of this $5.4 million dollar NIH grant, the Davis researchers using ERPs to study the changes in brain function in the clinical trial aim to find a more accurate method of detecting these changes that could improve Alzheimer's related clinical trials.
With more than $188 million in active life science funding from the NIH alone, and more than $700 million in funding received throughout 2014, the University of California, Davis Medical Center is one of the top research institutions in Northern California. Currently funded research projects at this institution include:
- The University of California, Davis Cancer Center provides 225 scientists with $85 million in research funding for 384 projects to improve cancer care through better detection and new therapies.
- UC Davis researchers were awarded a $20 million grant to refine stem cell therapy for osteoporosis sufferers and to run clinical trials for a period of 4 years to determine the therapy's efficacy.
- The UC Davis Medical Center has been awarded $10 million in funding from the new Research Investments in Sciences and Engineering (RISE) program.
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