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USF Alzheimer's vaccine research boosted by $1.1-million NIH grant

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 25, 2001) The University of South Florida's nationally-recognized work to refine a promising vaccine for Alzheimer's disease was boosted by a new $1.1-million National Institutes of Health grant. The award will help researchers test cellular immune responses to the beta amyloid vaccine in a "humanized" mouse model that shows brain pathology and memory losses similar to those in Alzheimer's disease.

This more advanced mouse model, to be jointly developed by USF and the University of Pennsylvania, may help explain the potential role that cellular immunity plays in fighting or promoting the devastating neurodegenerative disease.

"We want a more well-rounded, extensive understanding of the immunological responses to the Alzheimer's vaccine, particularly potential cellular immunity, to determine whether the responses are beneficial or not," Kenneth Ugen, PhD, associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology and principal investigator of the grant. "The research is important to the vaccine's future effectiveness and safety in humans."

The researchers will also work on developing a DNA vaccine against Alzheimer's disease, which may have technological or economical advantages over conventional vaccination methods.

This second National Institute on Aging grant is in addition to a $2.2-milliion NIA grant awarded last year to David Morgan, PhD, professor of pharmacology. Dr. Morgan heads the USF Alzheimer's vaccine research program, which includes Dr. Ugen as one of its major investigators. Dr. Morgan is a co-principal investigator on the new grant.

Earlier work by the USF group showed that an experimental vaccine prevented memory loss in mice with mutated human genes (known as transgenic mice) that produce age-related brain degeneration much like Alzheimer's disease. The study, published in the journal Nature, attracted international attention.

The new grant includes an outside scientist, inter
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@hsc.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
25-Oct-2001


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