Local News: Two UT researchers using worms in personal quest for Alzheimer’s treatment

By Mary Ann Roser



University of Texas researchers Adela Ben-Yakar and Jon Pierce-Shimomura are on a mission. It’s professional, personal and not conducive to patience.

Armed with a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for “exceptionally innovative” research projects that can shift science in new directions, the two colleagues are devoting a large part of their professional lives to collaborating on new drug therapies for Alzheimer’s disease that might also slow down the aging process. It’s personal because Ben-Yakar’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease and is deteriorating. Pierce-Shimomura’s 10-year-old son has Down syndrome, which causes premature aging and a high risk of developing memory-stealing Alzheimer’s.

“I got into this because of him,” said Pierce-Shimomura, an assistant professor in neurobiology.

Ben-Yakar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, echoes that sentiment. “I’m losing her every day,” she said of her 78-year-old mother.

Neither has the time to be patient. Perhaps that is why they have turned to roundworms, rather than the traditional lab mice, for their drug studies.


Read more here at the Statesman.com.

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