November 19, 2021 - Podcast

Episode 205—The search for new Alzheimer’s drug treatments, and preventing domestic violence

In the United States, most of us know someone who is affected by Alzheimer’s disease, an all-too common and disabling disorder. As part of ongoing Alzheimer’s disease research at the Indiana University School of Medicine, IU scientists have embarked on a new study to investigate the biology behind a gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease, in hope of developing a drug to treat the disease. The research team, led by Bruce Lamb, executive director of the IU School of Medicine’s Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, is studying a gene-encoded protein found in the brain’s immune cells that has two genetic risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The research will increase understanding of how this gene works in disease models and how it impacts the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Lamb says. The scientists will use animal models to identify possible compounds that might either inhibit or activate the gene. The hope is to identify a drug that will protect patients at risk from Alzheimer’s disease against neurodegeneration or slow the rate of cognitive decline as the disease progresses.

In other news, at first glance, the issue of intimate partner violence seems straightforward—to get justice for the victim. However, research by Monica Solinas-Saunders, an associate professor of public affairs at IU Northwest, suggests that society’s response to domestic violence needs to go much deeper. While we need to show support for victims, we also need to look at who the perpetrators are, what triggers the violence, and whether we can create protocols of treatment to prevent future escalating situations, Solinas-Saunders says. Our current system takes a one-size-fits-all approach, she says, when we should be looking at factors such as gender differences because men and women differ in the way they manifest aggression and in the underlying causes of their aggressive behaviors. Regardless of gender or other aspects, though, Solinas-Saunders says the keys to quelling intimate partner violence are more research and dedication to more appropriate rehabilitation programs. Research on intimate partner violence has many gaps, Solinas-Saunders says, and there are many questions left to be explored about how different genders, sexual orientations, races, and ethnicities experience domestic violence.