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2010 Grants - Lim
The Roles of Metal Ions in Alzheimer's Disease
Mi Hee Lim, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
2010 New Investigator Research Grant
Alzheimer's disease likely involves the accumulation of beta-amyloid and abnormal tau in the brain. These molecules form amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, two hallmarks of Alzheimer's. The exact mechanisms for how such protein clumps develop is unknown. Yet research suggests the involvement of metal ions, a category of electrically charged chemical particles. Metal ions may promote beta-amyloid accumulation by reducing the activity of enzymes that clear amyloid from the brain. In addition, numerous studies have found that metal ions help generate toxic oxygen molecules. These molecules may damage brain cells in a process called oxidative stress, another hallmark of Alzheimer's.
Mi Hee Lim, Ph.D., and colleagues hope to clarify the roles of metal ions in Alzheimer pathology. For this effort, they will engineer molecules that interact with different metal ions and make ion activity easier to detect in cultured cells. Preliminary compounds developed by the team have already revealed ion-induced amyloid clumping in cells.
Dr. Lim's study could shed new light on the biological mechanisms underlying Alzheimer progression. The study could also lead to novel disease therapies.