Napolean Longtine Center For Molecular Biology and Genetics

When you see a side-by-side comparison of arteries from a healthy brain and the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, you don’t have to be a scientist to know which is which.

The healthy brain’s arteries are wide open, obviously allowing for a strong flow of blood. The Alzheimer’s arteries, however, have only small openings, some almost completely closed. How the blood flow to the brain may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease is just one of many studies going on in the Longtine Center for Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute.

In fact, a published study by Alex Roher, MD, Ph.D., director, head and senior scientist at the Longtine Center, indicates there is a link between atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Roher’s findings contribute to mounting evidence that demonstrates a close relationship between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other research being conducted by the Longtine Center includes:

  • Examining blood, urine and saliva for the presence of amyloid β peptide, a key molecule that forms toxic plaques in the Alzheimer’s brain.
  • Currently, the only scientifically certain way to diagnose Alzheimer’s is by brain autopsy. Roher’s goal is to establish the biochemical basics of the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. This would allow diagnosis of the disease in living patients as well as determine in advance who is at risk of developing the disease.

Developing an early diagnosis of likely Alzheimer’s disease is a key to developing and applying prevention methods.