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2009 Grants - Deoni
Investigation of Myelin Loss Associated with Alzheimer's Disease
Sean Deoni, Ph.D.
Providence, Rhode Island
2009 New Investigator Research Grant
Myelin is a protective sheath that wraps around nerve fibers in the nervous system and is important for the proper function of nerve cells. Damage to myelin occurs in the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease and such damage is associated with declines in memory and cognitive function. Currently, however, there is no reliable and noninvasive way to detect myelin damage in the brain.
Sean Deoni, Ph.D. and colleagues have recently developed a technique that allows them to measure the amount of myelin in different regions of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The goal of this research proposal is to continue the development of their technique and use it to measure myelin damage in persons at different stages of Alzheimer's disease. They plan to test whether the degree of myelin damage in the brain is related to the degree of cognitive decline. The imaging method may also allow the researchers to identify specific regions of the brain most vulnerable to damage, and those regions most strongly associated with declines in cognitive function. Ultimately, the researchers hope to use the new MRI method to monitor disease progression, and possibly to monitor the efficacy of treatments intended to slow or halt disease progression.