<< Back

2021 Alzheimer's Association Research Grant (AARG)

Mitochondrial Replenishment as a Therapy in Alzheimer's Disease

How to supply energy to brain cells associated with damage in Alzheimer’s?

Elvin Blanco, Ph.D.
The Methodist Hospital Research Institute
Houston, TX - United States


Beta-amyloid accumulates to form “plaques”, a hallmark brain change observed in Alzheimer’s. The accumulation of beta-amyloid can disrupt the functionality of nerve cells in the brain. Studies also show that the accumulation of beta-amyloid may impact how mitochondria – a powerhouse of energy generation for cells – makes energy for the cells. The function of mitochondria may undergo damage early on in Alzheimer’s. Dysfunction of mitochondria may be associated with nerve cell damage in Alzheimer’s. 

Dr. Elvin Blanco and colleagues have developed an innovative mitochondrial transplantation technique that may be able to deliver functioning mitochondria to nerve cells. Using bioengineering techniques, the researchers developed a protective coating for mitochondria and showed that the strategy may increase uptake of transplanted mitochondria into cells. The researchers found that this technique could impact energy uptake in both cancer cells and heart cells.

Research Plan

Building on their initial findings, Dr. Blanco and colleagues will further study in more details the efficacy of their new mitochondria transplantation technique in nerve cells. The researchers will transplant the coated mitochondria in nerve cells taken from genetically engineered Alzheimer’s-like mice. The researchers will then study whether the bioengineered mitochondria could impact the ability of the nerve cells to convert nutrients to energy. Additionally, the researchers will study whether the microglia transplantation technique may protect nerve cells from damage associated with the accumulation of beta-amyloid.


This project will evaluate a new technique for transplanting healthy, functioning mitochondria into nerve cells. If successful, the results could help impact energy uptake in nerve cells and may protect nerve cells from damage in Alzheimer’s.

Back to Top