Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia, affecting about 5 million Americans and more than 15 million individuals worldwide. Despite its prevalence, however, many aspects of the disease’s development and progression are still poorly understood. With few known biomarkers, researchers have struggled to develop early detection methods or effective treatments.
With a new $2.4 million R01 grant from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy professor Lingjun Li is taking aim at this problem using her strengths in analytical chemistry and biomolecular detection. She and a team of collaborators, including Cynthia Carlsson and Ozioma Okonkwo at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and biostatistics professor David Page, are working to develop and deploy a suite of powerful tools to discover clinically relevant biomarkers to drive better early detection, diagnosis and, potentially, treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
“It’s utilizing our strength in technology and tool development. In large ways this is a technology development grant, but with a very tight application or goal to advance early diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease,” Li says. “The idea is that hopefully we can identify biochemical changes that allow us to have more sensitive and early detection.”