August 21, 2010
The devastating loss of memory that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the death of nerve cells “strangled” by beta amyloid. In what would have seemed like science fiction a decade ago, the Fisher Center Foundation’s scientists are making progress in reversing this damage by actually inducing nerve cells to grow new connections with other cells, thus improving communication between remaining healthy cells. This work builds on the Foundation’s scientists recent discovery that a protein called “WAVE-1” regulates the growth of structures called spines that ultimately connect nerve cells, the Foundation’s scientists are exploring ways to compensate for the death of nerve cells in Alzheimer’s. These techniques might someday not only reverse symptoms such as memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients, but might also treat other nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, strokes, head trauma and spinal cord injuries.