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2012 Grants - Morales
Transmissibility of Amyloid-Beta Deposition by Blood and Different Routes
Rodrigo Morales, Ph.D.
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
2012 Mentored New Investigator Research Grant to Promote Diversity
Amyloid plaques in the brain are one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer's disease. The major component of amyloid plaques is beta-amyloid (also known as amyloid-beta), a protein fragment that is found even in healthy brains. The explanation for why beta-amyloid begins to aggregate and form amyloid plaques is unclear. However, there is evidence that small aggregates of beta-amyloid can trigger further aggregation, suggesting that the conditions for plaque formation can spread in a manner similar to an infection.
Rodrigo Morales, Ph.D., and colleagues have proposed a series of studies to examine how beta-amyloid aggregation is spread by aggregates in the blood or by other blood components. The researchers plan to obtain blood samples from old mice that exhibit Alzheimer's-like features. They will then test whether those samples induce plaque formation in young mice, along with different amounts and forms of beta-amyloid in the brains of mice.
The goal of these studies is to understand how amyloid plaque formation in one region of the blood or brain can trigger more extensive plaque formation in other parts of the brain. These studies may identify mechanisms that can serve as targets for the development of drugs to inhibit the process of plaque formation, potentially slowing or stopping the progression of disease.
Dr. Morales is mentored by Dr. Claudio Soto from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas.