June 6, 2022 - Podcast

Episode 276 — Arab American history, and blood tests for Alzheimer's disease

A new documentary about the history of Arab Americans in Indianapolis will soon be available, thanks to the work of IU researchers. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Indianapolis was home to a thriving, Arabic-speaking community. Though their legacy isn't well-known by many Hoosiers, they've made a lasting impact on Indiana history. Religious Studies Professor Edward Curtis has spent the last few years working with his students to shed light on the importance of this community. Curtis and his team researched thousands of archival documents. They learned about a variety of topics, such as how families celebrated holidays, foods passed through generations, and memories of St. George Church -- the first Arab American congregation in Indianapolis. Curtis, who is Arab American, says one of the reasons this community trusted him to tell their stories was because they saw the quality of his team's research on the earliest Arabic-speaking immigrants. He says they were delighted to see that story told with integrity and accuracy. The documentary, titled "Arab Indianapolis: A Hidden History," premieres 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, at Indianapolis's Central Library. It will also air 9 p.m. June 16 on WFYI and stream on the WFYI and PBS apps at the same time.

In other news, IU School of Medicine researchers are gaining ground on the development of blood tests to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. According to the World Health Organization, close to 55 million people worldwide are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. And with disease modifying therapies becoming available, improving the efficiency of an early diagnosis is critical. Neurology Professor Jeffrey Dage says blood tests are the best option for affordability and accessibility because they are less costly and invasive than imaging and a lumbar puncture. Dage is part of a collaborative study with the Mayo Clinic exploring the utility of blood biomarkers that measure levels of phosphorylated tau, or P-tau. In previous studies, Dage has demonstrated that blood levels of P-tau are indicators of the development of Alzheimer’s disease pathology in the brain. Dage and his collaborators published their most recent study on P-tau in Nature Medicine. The paper represents the first large community-based exploration into the blood tests.