In the news / Aging

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Recognizing progress BIO5 researchers are making against this devastating neurodegenerative condition during Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.
 
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We’re highlighting our researchers’ efforts against this major cause of death and disability in the United States during National Traumatic Brain Injury Month.
 
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During National Endometriosis Awareness Month, we’re highlighting our researchers’ efforts to tackle this common women’s health problem.
 
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In the College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Immunobiology, Department Head and Professor Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich, and Associate Professor Dr. Deepta Bhattacharya, PhD, both members of the BIO5 Institute, were well-prepared to study SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, and gave us head start in the development of one of the most accurate COVID-19 antibody tests in the country. When the inflammation response goes awry, especially as people age, many chronic diseases associated with aging are then made worse by chronic inflammation. Unique research focus on immunity, inflammation and aging is a UArizona Health Sciences strategic initiative being led by Dr. Nikolich-Žugich and an advisory team consisting of researchers including BIO5 faculty, Drs. Felicia Goodrum and Michael Johnson.
 
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Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a neurodegenerative disorder that affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans, disproportionately affects women. The Women's Alzheimer's Movement (WAM), a nonprofit founded by Maria Shriver, is at the forefront in taking action to help find solutions to the disease. $500,000 in grant funding for women-based Alzheimer’s disease research to many researchers including Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, University of Arizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science director and BIO5 member, who is using her grant to study Type 2 diabetes therapies and associated risks of Alzheimer’s in women.
 
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A UArizona Health Sciences research project called Saguaro Study, is designed to identify issues unique to University employees who are at least 50 years old and then test ways to help address or mitigate those concerns among the 5,700 employees in that age group. The team led by BIO5 member and chair of the Department Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Public Health Dr. Zhao Chen, are examining the balance of keep stress in check during the pandemic, while also maintaining physical activity and retaining social connections.
 
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Drawing upon inspiration from an orphanage in Romania, Dr. Katalin Gothard aims to understand how the physical and social aspects of touch translate to emotion within the brain.
 
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Dr. Purnima Madhivanan, UArizona Zuckerman College of Public Health associate professor and BIO5 member, will lead a National Institute on Aging funded study on the effects of Senior Yoga practice on health among elderly populations in low-income communities. Her research seeks to adapt an evidence-based yoga lifestyle program for primary care settings in India, and implement it in the future with local populations in Tucson
 
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University of Arizona Health Sciences researchers are moving closer to conducting clinical trials on what would be the first therapeutic drug for vascular cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID), the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Research by Meredith Hay, PhD, a UArizona professor of physiology, and member of the BIO5 Institute and the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, may offer a remedy for vascular dementia. To date, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any drugs that specifically treat vascular dementia, which involves cognitive impairment caused by injuries – often stroke related – to the vessels supplying blood to the brain.
 
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Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, director of UArizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science and BIO5 member, is testing whether a drug called allopregnanolone is a safe and effective way to restore cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients. If the results are good, she’ll be one step closer to bringing the world’s first regenerative therapeutic for Alzheimer’s to the millions of people living with the disease.
 
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Scientists at the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute are looking deeper into the connection between Alzheimer's disease and Down syndrome, developing technology that will give researchers clues to the exact relationship between a pair of proteins shared by the two conditions. UArizona biochemistry professor Dr. Wolfgang Peti thinks it could lead to a better understanding and treatment of several neurological disorders. With fellow UArizona biochemistry professor Dr. Rebecca Page, together they collaborated with a team of researchers investigating the proteins Calcineurin and RCAN1 with the aim to use their findings to develop drugs and other treatment options.
 
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COVID-19 has presented many challenges for universities as they assess the risks of reopening for the health of older faculty and staff. Dr. Zhao Chen, UArizona Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics chair and BIO5 member, will lead an internal study to assess risk perception, risk mitigation strategies, and overall wellness for UArizona employees aged 50+ during the reopening process.
 
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Wolfgang Peti, a University of Arizona professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been investigating the interaction between two proteins implicated in Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease for nearly 10 years. Past technological limitations have prevented researchers from determining the precise physical relationship between the two proteins. Peti teamed up with Rebecca Page, professor and interim associate head of research and faculty affairs in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, to address the research question through a new approach .
 
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With only five available drugs approved by the U.S. FDA to treat Alzheimer's disease, the National Institute on Aging has awarded a $6.1 million grant to the UArizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science to investigate a novel approach to treat the disease. The center is led by a top neuroscientist and BIO5 member, Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton.
 
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As we get older, we tend to forget things – where we left our keys, our neighbor’s name or the word for a common household item. While forgetfulness is a normal sign of age, declining memory function can accelerate and lead to irreversible brain damage.
 
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A UArizona study involving Dr. Meredith Hay, a Department of Physiology professor and BIO5 member, aims to start a comprehensive investigation of the effects of coronavirus on the brain. The UArizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science funded study, will follow subjects over several years to study changes as they age. The center's director and BIO5 member Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton looks forward to continuing to support these critical research endeavors as researchers work to understand the novel virus.
 
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The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) and the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research announced the 2019 Research Grants for Junior Faculty recipients - one of whom is a BIO5 member. Dr.

 
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Dr. Janko Nikolich-Zugich, an internationally noted immunologist, co-director of the UArizona Center on Aging at the College of Medicine - Tucson, and BIO5 member received a $4.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Using the funding from this grant, his lab will study how common infectious, psychological and physical stressors affect our immunity, lifespan and the aging processes.