Alzheimer's disease diagnosed 100 years ago today

November 03, 2006

ATLANTA Ð One hundred years after the first diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) November 3, 1906, researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, are focusing on neuroscience, immunology and vaccine research to better understand how AD develops and progresses as well as to advance the treatment and prevention of this progressive brain disorder. AD, which currently affects 20 million Americans, gradually destroys memory and the ability to learn, reason, make judgments and communicate.

"The Yerkes Research Center has developed four major areas of Alzheimer's research critical to identifying preventions and treatments to slow the progression or stop the onset of this devastating disease," said Stuart Zola, director of the center. "Along with investigating potential Alzheimer's disease vaccines, our researchers are developing a transgenic model for the disease, conducting comparative aging studies and detecting early symptoms of the disease."
The following researchers are available to comment on the Yerkes Research Center's current AD research: Stuart Zola, Yerkes director and associate director of the Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, can discuss memory loss related to AD and the potential for the development of noninfectious disease vaccines, specifically one to prevent AD. Zola, also co-director of Emory's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, is working with Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center, to unite an interdisciplinary team of immunology, vaccine and neuroscience researchers to develop the noninfectious disease vaccines.

Lary Walker, PhD, can discuss Alzheimer's disease, stroke and trauma, the aging process and prion diseases. Walker's current research focuses on the protein structure and chemistry of Alzheimer's disease as well as the disease pathogenesis. He also is studying amyloid deposits in Alzheimer's affected brains and evaluating the efficacy and side effects of therapeutic immunizations.

James Herndon, PhD, can discuss age-related cognitive decline in female nonhuman primates and the importance of nonhuman primate models in aging studies. In one of Herndon's upcoming research projects, he will focus on the evolution of aging and dementia in female primates by comparing changes that occur in normal aging humans, humans with AD and humans with mild cognitive impairment to those occurring in nonhuman primates in order to identify changes that are indicative of pathological aging as occurs in Alzheimer's disease. This research may lead to earlier diagnosis, more effective treatments and a new focus for therapy development.

Anthony Chan, DVM, PhD, is available to discuss the use of transgenic nonhuman primate models for AD. Chan is studying the onset and progression of AD and will compare the neurological changes that take place in the transgenic model in order to develop treatments and preventions. Chan is best known for his role at the Oregon National Primate Research Center in creating ANDi, the world's first genetically modified nonhuman primate.

For more than seven decades, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University has been dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of primate biology, behavior, veterinary care and conservation, and to improving human health and well-being. Today, the center, as one of only eight National Institutes of HealthÐfunded national primate research centers, provides specialized scientific resources, expertise and training opportunities.

Recognized as a multidisciplinary research institute, the Yerkes Research Center is making landmark discoveries in the fields of microbiolÂogy and immunology, neuroscience, psychobiology and sensory-motor systems. Research programs are seeking ways to: develop infectious and noninfectious vaccines; treat cocaine addiction; interpret brain activity through imaging: increase understanding of progresÂsive illnesses such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's; unlock the secrets of memory; determine behavioral effects of hormone replacement therapy; address vision disorders; and advance knowledge about the evolutionary links between biology and behavior.

To learn more about ongoing research at the Yerkes Research Center, please visit

Emory University Health Sciences Center

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