Leaders in the scientific community suggest the new study could lead to further insights.
"These exciting findings provide an important link to understanding how mutations in the tau gene may affect cell function in FTDP-17," says Creighton H. Phelps, PhD, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers Program at the National Institute on Aging. "The abnormal protein disrupts normal brain cell function, probably leading to cell death. Similar changes occur in other brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Pick's disease, and further studies are needed to deduce the common pathological mechanisms involved."
The lead author on the study is Ming Hong, MD. Penn-based coauthors on the study, in addition to Lee and Trojanowski, include Victoria Zhukareva, PhD; Vanessa Vogelsberg-Ragaglia, PhD; and Lee Reed, MD. Additional coauthors are affiliated with the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville (FL); the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Washington, Seattle; the University of California, San Francisco; and Washington University, St. Louis. Funding for the work was provided by the National Institutes of Health.
The University of Pennsylvania Medical Center's sponsored research and training ranks third in the United States based on grant support from the National Institutes of Health, the primary funder of biomedical research and training in the nation -- $175 million in federal fiscal year 1997. In addition, for the third consecutive year, the institution posted the highest annual growth in these areas -- 17.6 percent -- of the top ten U.S. academic medical centers.