Researcher Aims To Block
Progression Of Alzheimer's Disease
Grace Stutzmann, an assistant professor at Rosalind Franklin University, is a BrightFocus Alzheimer's Disease Research grantee. Stutzmann's research focuses on early therapeutic approaches aimed at blocking the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Grace Stutzmann: My name is Grace Stutzmann. I'm an assistant professor at Rosalind Franklin University and I specialize in Alzheimer's research. My particular area of expertise is studying early mechanisms of the disease-so what happens, what goes wrong within individual cells, long before learning and memory impairments occur, long before there's actual structural deficits in the brain. What happens early at a stage which we can then correct or prevent it and therefore prevent the whole downstream pathological process.
So it's really meant to be an early theraputic approach and it differs from many of the current strategies because I want to know what's going on before the memory deficits occur, where currently much of the research is focused on what happens when the memory deficits occur and what happens after that.
ADR: What does your research mean for someone recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or at risk of developing the disorder?
Grace Stutzmann: We've isolated specific channels, a specific signaling cascade that is present in neurons that express mutations that will cause Alzheimer's disease. Now that we've identified this, there are actually compounds that currently exist that allow us to target or to block that channel. What it would mean for current-either early Alzheimer's patients or patients at risk for Alzheimer's is- there are now new therapeutic strategies that can be attempted that will actually block the disease.
ADR: Has the Alzheimer's Disease Research grant made an impact on your work?
Grace Stutzmann: I've been doing this type of research for about 10 years. I've been an assistant professor at Rosalind Franklin for about 6. What this has allowed me to do is advance my career immensely because it has allowed me to establish specific channels, specific biological mechanisms that are going awry that normally under conventional funding mechanisms, they wouldn't be as interested. It's not mainstream. What your funding has allowed me to do is really demonstrate, unequivocally, that this particular signaling pathway has gone horribly awry early on in the disease process.
ADR: What is the best strategy for fighting Alzheimer's disease?
Grace Stutzmann: Support research for Alzheimer's disease. There's so much already known about what Alzheimer's looks like. We know what's going to happen to these patients. It's sad and distressing, but so little is known or understood about what causes the disease. Blocking the progression of the disease will not only be a merciful treatment for those who would be either at risk or in the early stages of it, but also it removes that entire patient population not only from the stress of the family needing to take care of it but the unfortunate social and financial obligations that go with it. So in terms of a strategy to approach Alzheimer's disease basically eliminating the progression, preventing the onset of Alzheimer's to me seems like a more strategic way to go about dealing with this increasingly global problem of patients and families that have to care for them.
ADR: What can the public do to support Alzheimer's disease research?
Grace Stutzmann: If you can donate, if you can contribute in anyway to the advancement in either the treatment or the research underlying Alzheimer's disease that would be an incredibly appreciated help and contribution.
Original Post Date: February 2012
Last Review: 04/22/13