Dr Julia Muenchhoff, post-doctoral research fellow in the Proteomics group at the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), has been awarded a Rebecca L. Cooper Foundation Medical Research Grant of $21,000 for her project Apolipoprotein levels and post-translational modifications as blood biomarkers for early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
At present, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias, nor have researchers been able to establish a comprehensive method for the early diagnosis of AD. Since there is often a significant delay between the underlying pathological changes to the brain and the appearance of clinical symptoms, many researchers suggest that irreversible damage to the brain may have occurred by the time potential drug therapies are tested.
Dr Muenchhoff’s research takes a novel approach to identify blood-based biomarkers which could potentially aid diagnosis at the stage of mild cognitive impairment, often a pre-cursor to AD, and therefore also improve future drug and therapeutic strategies to treat AD.
According to Dr Muenchhoff, “the ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage prior to extensive neuronal damage is essential in order to realise the full potential of disease modifying treatments.”
“We also expect that our novel approach will identify modifications to proteins that are relevant to Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Once identified, we can study what consequences these modifications might have for the function of the protein. This could improve our understanding of the progression of the disease, which is still not well understood.”
Dr Muenchhoff said she is immensely grateful to the RLC Foundation for awarding this grant. The funds will be utilised to purchase equipment that will allow the researchers to automate parts of the procedure, which will not only save time, but also allow results to be reproduced on a larger scale.