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University of Missouri, Columbia, received a $6 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to continue research on ways to prevent and cure Alzheimer’s disease. This grant dove-tails on the previous $5 million, 5-year, grant provided by the NIH.

The first NIH grant helped researchers to recognize two major abnormalities of Alzheimer’s patients. First, Alzheimer patients release an excessive amount of amyloid-beta peptide protein, or A-beta. It is not known why, but high levels of A-beta becomes toxic to people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The second major abnormality recognized by MU researchers is that the increased A-beta level can increase oxidative stress and enhance inflammatory responses in the brain.

Although these two abnormalities have been previously known the researchers have provided the scientific community with a better understanding on how these mechanisms function.

New research will focus on how reactive oxygen radicals are produced in brain cells and how brain cell functions are affected by A-beta. Soon the researchers will examine how A-beta destroys brain cells by activating phospholipid enzymes, which is something recent research has indicated.