$2M Grant Supports Study of Neurodegenerative Diseases and Calcium

Albany Medical College research has implications for Alzheimer’s, other diseases

Scientists at Albany Medical College, a member of the Albany Med Health System, have been awarded a $2,037,500 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how specific molecules regulate calcium levels.

Calcium levels that aren’t tightly controlled are a known factor in Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases, as well as in muscular dystrophies and heart disease.

Led by Kenneth Norman, PhD, professor in the Department of Regenerative and Cancer Cell Biology, the researchers will use genetic manipulation and high-resolution live cell microscopy to define the roles of specific molecules, including the gene sel-12 and the protein presenilin, in regulating calcium levels. Presenilin mutations are the most common cause of early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease, but the exact mechanics aren’t known.

“Understanding how genetic mutations impact calcium levels, and in turn factor in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, may provide crucial insight into the causes of these tragic diseases and, ultimately, new strategies to treat them,” said Dr. Norman.

Titled “Deciphering Molecular Mechanisms of Calcium Homeostasis,” the five-year study is funded by a MIRA (Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award) grant from the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS).