Dr. Kellyann Niotis sheds light on the overlapping etiology and pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Dementia. She discusses potential mechanisms by which Apolipoprotein E4 (ApoE4), a significant genetic risk factor, can lead to neurodegeneration. She argues for an individualized approach to preventive neurological care and discusses how ApoE4 may serve as a therapeutic target to combat diseases like Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Dementia. Watch Dr. Niotis’ full video here, to see for yourself why preventative neurology is the future of neurologic care.
Certain proteins found in the brain, notably amyloid and tau (among others), can now be detected in the blood many years before the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. A study funded by our Foundation is testing whether it is possible to collect these proteins from people with varying degrees of risk for Alzheimer’s and other diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia. The ability to monitor and track these protein markers in people at-risk may be significant in the future of Alzheimer’s detection and treatment.
For example, researchers can use “N-of-1” or single participant clinical trials that consider an individual patient as the sole unit of observation in a study investigating the effectiveness of different interventions. This allows for testing of the impact of various interventions, such as lifestyle changes (e.g., exercise, nutrition) as well as certain drugs used for other medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, high cholesterol) on blood markers of neurodegenerative disease. In our prior Alzheimer’s prevention research study, we showed that individualized multidomain interventions may improve cognitive function and reduce both Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular risk scores in patients at-risk for Alzheimer’s dementia. Using blood based biomarkers both before and after various lifestyle and medical changes will allow our research team to cost-effectively understand the biological impact of these interventions on Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disease pathology (rather than by using more cumbersome and expensive tests such as lumbar punctures and brain imaging scans which also carry some degree of risk).
We have enrolled people aged 40+ with a family history of, or with already diagnosed, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body and other neurodegenerative diseases and will follow these subjects over time.
A foundation-supported research project focuses on the genetic factors that play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. There are many genes – ranging from those that affect cholesterol to sleep and memory – which can impact the development of Alzheimer’s.
It is our goal to be better able to acquire, store and analyze whole genome sequencing, as well as partial genome sequencing, in people at risk for Alzheimer’s, as well as those people who are already diagnosed. We have enrolled several families and aim to study the impact of learning gained from genetic analyses on personalizing risk reduction care in a clinical research study.
Each year, we aim to fund 1-2 summer research scholarships for visiting medical students. In 2023, we have selected two students from the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University and the University of Michigan School of Medicine as the inaugural Dr. Manfred Muenter Summer Scholarship Award. Stay tuned for more details coming soon.