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2008 Grants - Konishi
Comparison of Beta-Secretase between Alzheimer Brains in the US and Japan
Yoshihiro Konishi, M.D., Ph.D.
National Hospital Organization Tottori Medical Center
2008 New Investigator Research GrantM
A hallmark of Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment, into clumps called plaques. This fragment is clipped from its parent molecule in a two-stage process. The first cut is made by the enzyme beta-secretase. However, scientists remain unclear whether increased beta-secretase activity directly leads to beta-amyloid accumulation. Studies involving autopsied brain tissue from people with Alzheimer's have found high levels of beta-secretase activity. However, most of the brain samples have come from Caucasian individuals.
Yoshihiro Konishi, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues note that Asian lifestyles and diets differ considerably from those of Caucasians. Because lifestyle and diet likely contribute to Alzheimer development, the pathological hallmarks of the disease may differ slightly between Asian and Caucasian groups.
Dr. Konishi's team proposes to study whether beta-secretase activity and beta-amyloid accumulation occur differently in the Alzheimer brains of Caucasian American and Japanese people. For this effort, the team will collect a large sample of autopsied brain tissue from brain banks in the United States and Japan. The researchers will use several imaging and analytical techniques to determine beta-secretase activity levels in this tissue.
The results of Dr. Konishi's research could shed new light on how beta-secretase activity affects people with Alzheimer's across cultural lines. Such knowledge could lead to treatments that are effective for a greater variety of human populations around the world.