Finding the root of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease known to affect people’s memories and cognitive abilities. While there’s no cure, researchers at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas are analyzing the disease and the role of our brain’s neurons.

TRANSCRIPT

Alzheimer's is a degenerative brain disease known to affect people's memories and cognitive abilities.

While there's no cure, researchers at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, are analyzing the disease, and the role of our brain's neurons.

Here's the story.

Haeun Kim studies and does Alzheimer's disease research in the UTSA laboratory of Dr. Hyoung-Gon Lee, a professor in peripheral neuropathy.

With our population aging so rapidly, um, we see more and more of neurodegenerative diseases, and Alzheimer's disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases.

And it's so sad that we don't have any cure or any treatment for this disease.

And, you know, I see friends, you know, their family members who are afflicted with AD, and since it's so prevalent, um, I think it's worthwhile to study and -- and try to understand the mechanism behind this whole pathological level.

Dr. Lee explains that his research focuses on the molecular and cellular causes for neurons to die in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

Basically, my research lab focus on the understanding of the basic mechanism, the why disease happen, and the why the neurons die in the Alzheimer's patient's brain.

So, we really focus on how -- what's the molecular and cellular mechanism, the neuron, the cause of the neuron and cell death in the dying mechanism.

And then we -- if we understand such a mechanism, and then we can find the cure, hopefully, in the future.

This research suggests that damaged neurons in an Alzheimer's brain are attempting to divide before they die.

Neurons in a normal brain cell do not try to divide.

Understanding the mechanisms behind these Alzheimer's neurons could lead to a breakthrough in treating or curing the disease.

So, there are evidences that suggest that neurons actually do go through, um, DNA replication in patients afflicted with Alzheimer's disease.

And, um, the PRKN that regulates the cell reentry is the PRKN of our interest.

And we're dedicated on understanding the mechanism behind Alzheimer's disease from the very bottom of molecular level to the cellular and all the way up to the pathological level.

And we're hoping to, um -- we're hoping that by targeting this cell cycle reentry, uh, we may have a breakthrough in, um, therapeutic measures, as well.

Dr. Lee's laboratory is currently developing an animal model to examine and understand how neurons die in Alzheimer's-affected brains.

This research aims to determine why these brain cells are trying to divide and, ultimately, help them divide and recover from the disease.

If successful, the key to unlocking the mystery of this devastating disease may be found.