‘Alzheimer’s in a Dish’ Expected To Hasten Drug Development

BrightFocus Grantees Behind Revolutionary New Method

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Currently taking the science world by storm are Harvard neuroscientist Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD, a past recipient of several BrightFocus grants, and 2013-15 BrightFocus Grantee Se Hoon Choi, PhD, who works at the Genetics and Aging Research Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital, which Tanzi directs. These researchers and their colleagues have managed to accomplish what no one has done before. They grew human brain cells in a petri dish using a gel culture, and then infiltrated them with genes that encode for amyloid precursor protein and presenilin1, both of which were earlier discoveries in Tanzi’s lab and are associated with the most robustly inheritable, early-onset familial forms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Published online October 13 in the journal Nature (Choi et al, 2014), their newest discovery is being hailed a “game changer” for Alzheimer’s research by a number of major news outlets, including The New York TimesTime,Newsweek, and the Boston Globe. That’s because experts predict the ‘Alzheimer’s in a dish’ method will supplement the mouse model currently used for studying Alzheimer’s, and make it possible to test potentially thousands of new drugs for Alzheimer’s much more rapidly, and at a lower cost.

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