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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Better Mouse Model Enables Precision-Medicine Research for Alzheimer’s

A grey-haired man looks thoughtfully into the distance

NIH scientists suggested that the body’s immune system may play a critical role in the damage caused by aging brain disorders.

Photo: Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock

Incorporating genetic diversity into a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease resulted in greater overlap with the genetic, molecular and clinical features of this pervasive human disease, according to a study funded by NIA. The study also suggests that adding genetic diversity may be key to improving the predictive power of studies using mouse models and increasing their usability for precision medicine research for Alzheimer’s. This research comes out of the newly established Resilience-Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium (Resilience-AD) and was published Dec. 27 in the journal Neuron.

“This is the first study to show that you can replicate many of the molecular features of Alzheimer’s disease in a genetically diverse mouse model,” said NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes. “It points to a strategy for better use of mouse models for precision medicine research—both basic and translational—for Alzheimer’s disease.”

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually, the ability to carry out simple tasks. As many as 5.5 million Americans ages 65 and older are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

A key tool among the multiple efforts to find a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s, mouse models allow researchers to explore genetic, molecular and even behavioral aspects of disease that can’t be done in humans. The researchers noted that mouse models with Alzheimer’s mutations are important for defining high-risk as well as protective genes and disease mechanisms and for efficient testing of new potential interventions and therapeutics.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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