The National Institute of Aging has awarded a five year, $10.3 million grant to the University of Arizona, Tucson to fund research on why women are more susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s Disease than men are. Lead researcher Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton will be collaborating with other UA investigators, as well as with researchers at the University of Southern California with specialties including; neuroimaging and informatics, pharmacology, gerontology, and neuroradiology.
Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s. Women make up sixty percent of those cases. By age 75 men have a 10% chance of developing the disease, while women have a 19% chance according to the Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.
Why are women more likely to develop Alzheimer’s?
We don’t know. Researchers have found that fifty percent of persons with Alzheimer’s are positive for the APOE4 gene. They have also discovered that women who test positive for a single copy of the gene are at a greater risk for the disease than men who have two copies of the APOE4 gene.
Why was the University of Arizona, Tucsons chosen for this grant?
There are about 130,000 individuals in the state of Arizona living with Alzheimer’s. That’s two percent of the population. The Alzheimer’s Association projects a fifty percent increase in that figure by 2050, raising the number to 200,000. UA is also a fitting choice because it is home to the new Center of Innovation in Brain Science and the inaugural director, Dr. Brinton, has been researching the disease for over twenty years.
Dr. Brinton, professor at the Evelyn F Mcknight Brain Institute, also holds holds professorships in pharmacology, neurology, and psychology. This world renouned nueroscientist was recently awarded the first ever Alzheimer’s Association Sex and Gender in Alzheimer’s, or SAGA, research grant. This three-year $249,000 grant will fund Brinton’s investigation into how the risk factor gene APOE4 impacts the development of Alzheimer’s pathology in both men and women. She will also be testing the “efficacy of the regenerative therapeutic allopregnanolone to prevent the loss of myelin, a fatty material that insulates the nerve fibers and increases the speed of electrical impulses needed for brain cell communication. The breakdown of myelin has been implicated in the disruption of brain signaling in Alzheimer’s.”