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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Professors research Alzheimer’s cure

A group of researchers, including the University of Alabama’s own Guy and Kimberlee Caldwell, recently released new findings that may link to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, according to a press release.

The study was published in Science Express, led by renowned biologist Susan Lindquist.

Guy Caldwell, a biology professor at UA, said his lab was at the forefront of the research. He and his wife began work with Lindquist in Parkinson’s studies several years ago, which progressed to the study of Alzheimer’s.

“It’s a fairly natural progression,” he said. “You can’t study one without having thoughts about the other.”

He said Lindquist used yeast as a basic, unicellular model to understand the disease. He said it is a great model due to its rapid cell division properties.

His own lab also used roundworms as a model, which is the secondary progression in the evolutionary pipeline of the research, Guy Caldwell said.

He said his lab was able to combine his system with Lindquist’s, whom he met after one of his former graduate students interviewed at Lindquist’s lab.

Lindquist was impressed by the student’s resume and phoned Guy Caldwell. The student did not receive the job, but Lindquist remained a friend and collaborator of the Caldwell’s, he said.

“I communicate more with her than I do with people down the hall from me,” he said. “That’s the beautiful thing of science. There are no boundaries.”

Lindquist acted as the primary collaborator at the Whitehead Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She said she had the good fortune of working with a great team of researchers, including the Caldwells.

Lindquist said she’s a very giving person and chooses her collaborators carefully, seeking candidates who are equally giving.

The research took a new approach that will likely enable further Alzheimer’s researchers to look deeper into the disease, which, five years ago, they were unable to do, she said.

“Students’ parents might live longer,” she said. “Not just longer, but healthier.”

Guy Caldwell said President Obama awarded Lindquist the National Medal of Science last year, which was awarded to select individuals in the scientific community.

“It was thrilling,” Lindquist said. “Back in the early days it was very difficult for a woman to get ahead.”

She said she hopes research such as that released from her lab will inspire women and other minorities to become scientists. She said she hoped they would receive recognition for their work, as well.

“Science is not an easy profession, but it’s a tremendous opportunity,” she said. “Your job is to be creative.”

She said there aren’t many other fields where you have this freedom to create and explore.

While amyloid beta peptide is a main cause of AD, a second protein, PICALM, has been found to counter its effects and to increase survival in rats, according to a news story from the Whitehead Institute.

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