UTB to Apply for Alzheimer's Research Money to Continue Research Efforts

Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 8:56am


President Obama is looking to tack on an additional 80-million dollars to Alzheimer's research, bringing the total to 530-million a year.

News Center 23 reporter Na'Tassia Finley has more on how Alzheimer’s affects valley residents and what University of Texas Brownsville will be doing to try and get a piece of that research money.
It's the sixth leading cause of death in America. It affects women twice as much as men and particularly hits the Hispanic and African American populations at higher rates.

Not much is known about the mysterious disease known as Alzheimer’s, but that it's rapidly progressing and there is not cure for it at this time. Researchers at the University of Texas Brownsville have several studies underway researching the disease that has haunted us for over 100 years.

"Still we don't know how to prevent it or stop it, that is why it's so important to allocate more funds into research into Alzheimer’s," says Dr. Luis Colom, VP of Research at the University of Texas-Brownsville.

Dr. Colom and his researchers study the genetic material, specifically neurons from rat brains, to detect mutations or defects.

It's estimated that roughly five million Americans suffer from the brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills in older adults
"Because South Texas has a predominantly Hispanic population, we know that the problem can be even worse," says Dr. Colom.

He adds because Hispanics often acquire diseases earlier, the number of cases are often higher.

Here's another piece of interesting information....

"You have diabetes for example; you have more of a chance to get Alzheimer’s. We still don't understand the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s but it's true," says Dr. Colom.

Research shows diabetes is prevalent here in deep South Texas because we have such an obese population.

So we know that it can't be cured just yet, but there are medications and things one can do to slow the progression of the disease and even keep the brain sharp.

Dr. Colom says the worst thing a family member can do is put a loved with early signs of Alzheimer’s in a nursing home. He says they need to receive brain stimulation to keep the brain active, things like reading books, playing cards, crossword puzzles and even listening to music. Those activities are great ways to keep the brain sharp. Colom says if you don't use it, you lose it.

In the meantime, the UTB Biomedical department will work towards applying for a chunk of that federal money to continue with their Alzheimer’s research efforts.

"We have a (are) very well equipped, and a lab that is trying to make a difference in Alzheimer’s disease."

Dr. Colom says as of now scientists across South Texas are creating a network in order to help them advance their research efforts.

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