A team at the University of Rochester has developed technology to take the sharpest molecular snapshots yet of cells affected by Alzheimer's disease, simultaneously measuring the activity of 20 genes within those cells. Scientists believe these profiles of individual cells provide the most thorough information to date on cells from the brains of deceased patients with Alzheimer's disease and provide a way to compare healthy and sick cells in detail.
Of the 20 genes tested, the expression of five genes - cyclin Dl, HSP27, GAD, alpha 1-ACT, and weel - differed significantly between the healthy brains and the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease. "A few people have looked at some of these genes individually, but no one until now has been able to look at a more complete picture that establishes that cell-cycle genes may be playing a significant role in the disease," says Paul Coleman, principal investigator.
Already the team has extended the technique, studying nearly 100 genes simultaneously. Scientists hope that by studying thousands of genes, they may develop ways to distinguish between healthy and sick cells or to track the disease as it progresses. Knowing which genes are turned on in Alzheimer's disease also should provide important clues to more effective treatment.