Fort Worth Researchers To Investigate Alzheimer's Disease In Latin Communities

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The University of North Texas Health Science Center will host one of the largest Alzheimer's Disease Research studies to date.

Researchers were awarded a grant expected to total $45 million from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, to expand innovative research into Alzheimer’s disease and the biological differences that cause the disease to disproportionately afflict Mexican Americans.

The five-year research grant, awarded to Sid O’Bryant, PhD, Professor and Executive Director of the Institute for Translational Research, and Leigh Johnson, PhD, Associate Professor and Associate Director, will help seek to understand the biological framework of Alzheimer’s disease in multi-ethnic populations and how it differs from that of non-Latino whites.

Mexican Americans develop Alzheimer’s disease 10 years earlier than whites. However, most of the Alzheimer’s research focuses on Non-Latino whites.

"We are going to be looking at how Alzheimer's Disease pathology in the brain, the basic underlying brain changes, what do they look like, how they progress and how they impact people from diverse communities," said Dr. O'Bryant.

The HSC will create a state-of-the-art imaging center that will enable researchers to do two PET Scans on every participant.

They will look for beta-amyloid or tau proteins, which are biomarkers for Alzheimer’s.

Two years later, each participant will undergo two more PET Scans for comparison of how the proteins have progressed.

The scans will allow researchers to observe the differences in Mexican Americans and nonLatino whites. Preliminary data suggest that beta-amyloid protein differs significantly in prevalence between the two ethnicities, Dr. O’Bryant said.

Mexican Americans represent the fastest growing aging population in the country. It is estimated that 1 million Mexican Americans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease by 2030.

"The whole point of this study is to develop precision medicine for treating and preventing Alzheimer's Disease among all communities. It's not about treating this one group or other group, but we can't understand the disease if we can't understand it in everybody," said O'Bryant.

"My goal is within 10 years, we have new therapies on board. I realize that's ambitious but we push and we push hard. I think we will change care for patients within 10 years," added O'Bryant.

For further information about the study, contact the Institute for Translational Research is 817-735-2963.

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