Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative Awards Ninth Research Grant

Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative Awards Ninth Research Grant
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(Burton, Michigan) -- October 25, 2011: The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (AAQI) has awarded its ninth grant to Dr. Chris B. Schaffer, Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. The $30,000 grant is the second grant the charity has awarded for Alzheimer’s research at Cornell University.

Dr. Schaffer explains, “In the conventional view of Alzheimer’s disease it is thought that neurons in the brain are damaged by the accumulation of a small protein called amyloid-beta, but recent work shows that the blood vessels in the brain are also affected by amyloid-beta. In addition, Alzheimer patients have less blood flow in their brains than people without the disease. It is possible that the vascular effects of amyloid-beta and this blood flow decrease could contribute to the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and add to the impact of the direct neuronal damage by amyloid-beta.

Our work suggests that the blood flow decrease may be caused by white blood cells that block small blood vessels in the brain. Normally, white blood cells become activated, stick to the wall of blood vessels, then exit the vasculature and tissue in response to an infection or injury. However, in Alzheimer’s disease such activation may be detrimental because it could slow blood flow and deprive brain cells of oxygen and nutrients. In addition, the decreased blood flow may trigger the accumulation of more amyloid-beta, producing a vicious cycle of injury to the brain.

In this work, we will test potential therapies that prevent the white blood cells from plugging blood vessels. We expect to see an increase in blood flow and hope to see a decrease in amyloid-beta accumulation. This work relies on new imaging techniques that enable us to track changes in amyloid-beta and blood flow with micrometer resolution in mice that are engineered to develop Alzheimer's disease. If successful, this therapy could potentially slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients.”

The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative (www.alzquilts.org) is a national, grassroots charity whose mission is to raise awareness and fund research. It auctions and sells donated quilts through the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt project and sponsors a touring exhibit of quilts about Alzheimer's called "Alzheimer's Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope." The Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative has raised more than $591,000 since January 2006. Ami Simms of Flint, Michigan is the founder and executive director of the AAQI, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation operated entirely by volunteers. She is a quilter. Her mother had Alzheimer's.

For more information on the AAQI or to make a donation, contact Ami Simms at 810-637-5586 (9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Eastern), ami@alzquilts.org or www.alzquilts.org. Contact:
Ami Simms
Founder and Executive Director
Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative
1200 Creekwood Trail
Burton, MI 48509
(810) 637-5586
www.alzquilts.org

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Prof. Chris Schaffer with one of the laser systems his research group uses to study blood flow changes in the brain that are linked to Alzheimer's disease.


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