Ralph & Muriel Roberts Laboratory For Neurodegenerative Research
The director and senior scientist of the Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Research has pioneered research that strongly indicates people with high blood pressure and coronary artery disease may be more at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Larry Sparks, Ph.D., was the first to discover the neuropathologic link between heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The wide range of Sparks’ research successes has brought national and international attention to the Banner Sun Health Research Institute.
This research includes:
- A clinical study that has shown that Lipitor™ (atorvastatin), a statin used to lower cholesterol, slows the progression and reduces the deterioration of Alzheimer’s disease. Two-thirds of the patients taking the medication derived some clinical benefit and half of those patients’ symptoms stabilized or actually improved.
- A three-year study at the Institute’s Cleo Roberts Center for Clinical Research, which suggested how elevated cholesterol levels might predict which aging seniors are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, has been confirmed in nationwide trials. Sparks feels information about that study could help develop a test that could eventually lead to discovering the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
- A study that found that copper in drinking water, coupled with high cholesterol, could be a link to the onset of Alzheimer’s, and that drinking purified or distilled water could substantially reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
- A study that has uncovered that circulating lower levels of Tau protein, in the blood is a predictor of Alzheimer's disease and may become a future biomarker for the disease.
- Study of an FDA-approved drug for treating hormone-related conditions may improve cognitive functions in Alzheimer's patients and slow the progression of the disease.
- Sparks has also co-authored a research paper that suggests that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a neurodegenerative disorder, the “Alzheimer’s disease of infancy.” These findings can help parents who are suffering from the strain of their infant’s SIDS death realize they are not to blame at all.