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In This Video

  • Yakeel T. Quiroz, PhD, is the director of the Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital
  • For the past several years, she has been studying a Colombian family with autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease
  • Here, she discusses her research finding biomarkers that signal early brain changes associated with developing Alzheimer's Disease

Yakeel T. Quiroz, PhD, is the director of the Familial Dementia Neuroimaging Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. For the past several years, she has been studying a Colombian family with autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease. In this video, she discusses her research to find biomarkers that signal early brain changes associated with developing Alzheimer's Disease.

Transcript

For the past several years, I have been studying a Colombian family with autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease. This is the world's largest family with one single mutation of autosomal dominant AD.

So what we are doing now in my lab is trying to define biomarkers as one of the earliest brain changes associated with the risk to develop Alzheimer's Disease.

We have the unique opportunity to actually study individuals who are carriers of these genetic mutation, but they don't have any cognitive symptoms yet. So usually they develop symptoms around the age of 44, 45, as like an early onset form of the disease. And the ones that we are actually studying right now are between 25 and 44. So in that way, I am actually getting a sense of what's going on before they start developing cognitive symptoms.

What we have done in the past few years is trying to understand how amyloid and tau is accumulated in their brains in these individuals several years before they develop the symptoms. And our most recent work has actually proved that amyloid accumulation starts in the brain of these individuals about 20 years before they develop the disease, or in this case, the symptoms. And the latest work that we have, it actually showed that tau, that is the other protein that is affecting Alzheimer's Disease, started accumulating between five to 10 years before they developed the disease.

One of the exciting things about the future is that I was just recently awarded an RO1 to actually do a longitudinal biomarker study with these families. It is the first time ever that we're going to be able to follow these individuals over time. And having the possibility to actually define and validate biomarkers in these individuals, actually offers a lot of opportunities for clinical trials. And the possibility of actually preventing Alzheimer's disease in the future. We can actually what are the changes that are happening before a person declines so maybe in the future, we can actually do things to actually prevent the decline in individuals.

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Brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease can now be studied in living people. Mass General researchers imaged cognitively normal people who are destined to develop AD due to a rare genetic mutation. Their goal: to discover how soon brain changes are present before symptoms begin and how soon preventive treatments could be initiated.

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