The research of Biology Professor and Chairman George Bloom is featured in the Aug.1 edition of UVA Today. In a study conducted by recent Ph.D. graduate Erin Kodis, a former member of the Bloom lab, "The researchers have found that an FDA-approved drug, memantine, currently used only for alleviating the symptoms of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease, might be used to prevent or slow the progression of the disease if used before symptoms appear." As Alzheimer's disease begins and progresses, an abnormal and failed attempt at cell division by the affected neurons eventually causes a massive die-off of up to 30% of the neurons in the brain's frontal lobes. Kodis's study "hypothesized that excess calcium entering neurons through calcium channels on their surface drive those neurons back into the cell cycle. This occurs before a chain of events that ultimately produce the plaques found in the Alzheimer’s brain." Ultimately, several experiments by Kodis proved her theory correct. According to Dr. Bloom, “The best hope for conquering this disease is to first recognize patients who are at risk, and begin treating them prophylactically with new drugs and perhaps lifestyle adjustments that would reduce the rate at which the silent phase of the disease progresses." To read the full article, please click here.
(Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications)