Lacreuse studying a natural model of Alzheimer’s disease

Dr. Agnes Lacreuse is giving Fitbits and touchscreens to small monkeys called marmosets to observe their activity and cognitive decline as they age. This might give her information about the progression of the devastating Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in humans, for which there is no treatment even after decades of research. New animal models are being developed to address the failures of past research conducted almost exclusively on mice. Lacreuse is taking a more natural approach.

Due to their phylogenetic proximity to humans, primate models are high on the list of research subjects.  Lacreuse recently received supplemental funding from NIH to study the marmoset as a preclinical model of AD. Her lab is characterizing the cognitive, emotional, motor, olfactory and sleep changes that the monkeys experience as they age, with the aim of identifying early markers of neuropathology. She believes that comparing aging trajectories in primate species with different lifespans and degrees of brain pathology will provide important new clues for understanding and ultimately fighting the disease.

Dr Lacreuse was interviewed about her work in the Nature journal Lab Animal. She is quoted as saying that the beauty of studying marmosets is that “the deposition of amyloid and hyperphosphorylated tau is completely natural.”  Lacreuse want to examine the progression of the pathology and understand, what are the symptoms that appear early.

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