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Research Grants - 2012


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Research Grants 2012


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2012 Grants - Scholtzova

Innate Immunity Stimulation as a Novel Therapeutic Approach in Alzheimer's Disease

Henrieta Scholtzova, M.D., Ph.D.
New York University School of Medicine
New York, New York

2012 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant

The immune system is often described as consisting of two interacting systems: the innate immune system, and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system consists of barriers, chemicals and cells that respond in a general way to foreign substances. The adaptive immune system is much more complex, and includes the ability to respond very selectively to specific foreign substances and to remember the characteristics of those substances so that future responses will be stronger and faster.

To date, most efforts to stimulate the immune system to combat Alzheimer's disease have involved the adaptive immune system, such as efforts to create a vaccine to remove toxic molecules from the brain. Henrieta Scholtzova, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues have been studying ways to stimulate the innate immune system to treat Alzheimer's disease. They showed, for example, that the innate immune system could be stimulated to reduce amyloid plaque in the brain, one of the hallmark features of Alzheimer's disease. This effect, demonstrated in mice, was accompanied by improvements in brain function.

Dr. Scholtzova and colleagues have proposed a series of additional studies to assess if stimulation of the innate immune system is a viable approach for treatment. They plan to use mice that have been genetically engineered to show Alzheimer's-like features, such as neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, to determine if stimulation of the immune system can reduce these signs of disease. The researchers also plan to test if stimulation of the innate immune system can reduce the accumulation of amyloid plaque in brain blood vessels. These studies will help determine if drugs to stimulate the innate immune system may be useful as potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease.