A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Team Explores Alzheimer’s Cause, Treatment


Led by Brown, a multi-university effort will build on recent discoveries about the mechanisms of aging.

A National Institutes of Health grant expected to total more than $16 million over five years will fund research into potential causes of Alzheimer’s disease and neurodegeneration, and assist a team of scientists in the search for targets to inform therapeutic strategies to treat those conditions.

With support from a prior NIH grant, the team of biologists from Brown University, New York University, and the University of Rochester has been researching the mechanisms of aging with special attention to potentially harmful DNA snippets called retrotransposable elements (or retrotransposons). Evidence from this team and from other scientists has implicated retrotransposons in promoting aging.

With the new NIH funding, the research team will join colleagues from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies to focus specifically on how retrotransposons contribute to neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.

“For the past five years, we worked on discovering how retrotransposons promote aging,” says principal investigator John Sedivy, PhD, a professor of biology and of medical science at Brown, and director of the University’s Center on the Biology of Aging. “While these mechanisms are universal and occur in many different types of cells, it’s important to understand variation in cell response. In the renewal phase of this grant, we will investigate how the cells of the central nervous system­—neurons, astrocytes, microglia—respond to the detrimental challenges posed by retrotransposons.”

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