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TODAY news for Thursday, September 17, 2007

Loma Linda University news

LLU psychology research among ‘remarkable advances’

Richard Hartman, PhD, assistant professor, department of psychology, LLU, continues to make breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease research. Most recently, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives included his immunology study in The 2006 Progress Report on Brain Research—a publication about the top findings in neuroscience.

“In neuroscience . . . the field is clearly ‘making a life,’ as we are giving more to society than ever,” states the book’s introduction, written by Thomas Insel, MD, director of National Institutes of Mental Health. “This progress report documents many of the areas where remarkable advances were reported in 2005.”

Dr. Hartman’s study found that the buildup of Alzheimer’s-like plaques in mice was associated with learning and memory problems very similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s patients.

When Dr. Hartman and his colleagues gave the anti-plaque antibody to mice that already had significant plaque buildup, their brain plaque levels were reduced, they got smarter, and their brain cells worked better when tested with electrophysiology.

“This showed that the buildup of plaques in the brain is the likely culprit for the memory problems in Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Hartman, “and that clearing (or preventing) the plaques could slow, halt, or even reverse the progression of the disease.”

According to Dr. Hartman, because Alzheimer’s disease is a disease of aging, delaying its onset by only five years could effectively reduce the incidence by half.

“The Dana Foundation is a private organization dedicated to promoting public education about neuroscience,” explains Dr. Hartman. “It’s definitely nice that they consider our Alzheimer’s immunotherapy research as important enough to warrant inclusion in their report.”

Individuals may read the full research study, titled “Treatment with an Amyloid–ß Antibody Ameliorates Plaque Load, Learning Deficits, and Hippocampal Long-Term Potentiation in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease,” in The Journal of Neuroscience, June 29, 2005.

By Patricia Thio

TODAY news for Thursday, September 17, 2007