The Leissering lab studies substances (called proteases) that destroy amyloid beta-protein which is the chief component of the plaques that create Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Leissring previous work has shown that the severity of Alzheimer’s Disease is strongly dependent on how active these protease substances are.

However, all of the various amyloid destroying substances (proteases) are not known. Dr. Leissring is using CART funds to investigate most of these substances and determine which ones are capable of destroying Alzheimer’s amyloids. The results are expected to give new insight into the causes of Alzheimer’s and perhaps help develop new treatment for the disease through drugs or other treatments.

Harry LeVine, III, Ph. D. Associate Professor, Center on Aging, Center for Structural Biology, Dept. of Molecular & Cellular Biochemistry, 209 Sanders Brown Building, University of Kentucky.

Humans are the only animal that suffers the dementia of Alzheimer’s disease. A molecule called PIB is currently used for imaging the Alzheimer’s disease hallmark deposits of beta-amyloid protein in the brains of living subjects. Animal models – including our closest relatives, the non-human primates – have beta-amyloid deposits, but the deposits do not bind PIB, and the animals do not develop Alzheimer’s disease. Our study seeks to use PIB to understand why only humans experience the brain damage that causes dementia.