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Research Grants 2009


To view an abstract, select an author from the vertical list on the left.

2009 Grants - Abulrob

Development of Agents and Imaging Modalities for Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease

Abedelnasser Abulrob, Ph.D.
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

2009 Molecular Imaging in Alzheimer's Disease Grant

Currently, diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease occurs only after the disease has caused significant declines in memory and cognitive function. The ability to diagnose the disease at a much earlier stage may allow earlier treatment, which may forestall such declines. A major goal of research is to develop imaging methods that allow physicians to reliably diagnose Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages.

One imaging approach that is being studied involves using dyes to label amyloid plaques in the brain, which are one of the characteristic pathologic features of the disease. Abedelnasser Abulrob, Ph.D. and colleagues are developing an imaging method they hope will allow even earlier detection of Alzheimer pathology. Their method depends on the detection of small clusters of beta-amyloid, a protein fragment that aggregates into amyloid plaques, while the beta-amyloid is still contained inside of nerve cells and before it aggregates into plaques.

Dr. Abulrob's team has developed two key technologies to achieve their goal: small protein fragments that selectively bind to beta-amyloid, and specially modified antibodies that are able to carry small molecules into the brain across the blood-brain barrier. These antibodies are also taken up by nerve cells. The researchers have proposed to use these technologies to deliver dyes to the brain that can detect small clusters of beta-amyloid inside of nerve cells. They will test this method in mice using magnetic resonance imaging and a new imaging technique called near-infrared optical imaging. These studies may lead to the development of ways to detect early stages of Alzheimer's disease using noninvasive imaging techniques.