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Fall 2010

Gene-Therapy Technology May Be Important to Fighting Alzheimer’s Disease

VS-Fall10-Alzheimer's Gene-TherapyA new clinical trial at UCLA is testing gene-transfer technology as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. In the study, DNA-producing nerve growth factor (NGF) is injected directly into the nucleus basalis, a cluster of nerve cells in the brain known to be susceptible early in Alzheimer’s disease. The study represents an important advancement in Alzheimer’s disease research.

“NGF is vital to the development of the brain and central nervous system when we’re born because it tells nerve cells to stay alive,” explains Joshua Grill, Ph.D., director of the Katherine and Benjamin Kagan Treatment Development Program in the Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA. “We’ve been trying to find a way to get NGF into older brains to prevent neurons from dying.”

Researchers are investigating whether they can essentially “trick” neurons into making NGF as a way to keep them alive and functioning normally in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. To test this theory, the experimental gene-transfer drug is being surgically injected into the brains of patients in the treatment group. This study represents the first time gene-therapy technology is being used in Alzheimer’s disease clinical research.

“We’re pursuing many different types of therapies that have different targets in the brain, trying to find a way to slow, stop or reverse this disease,” Dr. Grill says. “We want to find something that works as fast as possible.” Brachytherapy go to: brachytherapy

For more information, go to: http://www.eastonad.ucla.edu

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