Alzheimer’s Disease Center Research
Research at NYU Langone’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center has led to many discoveries in the field of brain aging and neurocognitive disorders. Through clinical trials and research studies, many of our investigators study areas of health that affect people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.
de Leon Lab
Mony J. de Leon, EdD, is the founder and director of the Center for Brain Health in NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry. Dr. de Leon and his team wrote many “first” papers, including the first studies of early hippocampal atrophy and glucose metabolism alterations in Alzheimer’s disease, as well as the first longitudinal imaging reports to predict the transition from normal aging to Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. de Leon has been among the top 5 percent of investigators receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for the past 25 years.
The lab of Mary S. Mittelman, DrPH, is known for NYU Langone Caregiver Counseling and Support Intervention. This treatment consists of four components: two individual counseling sessions tailored to each caregiver’s specific situation; four family counseling sessions with the primary caregiver and family members selected by that caregiver; participation in a weekly support group; and ad-hoc counseling, where counselors are always available by phone to help caregivers and families deal with crises and the changing nature of the patient’s symptoms over the course of the disease.
The work of Barry Reisberg, MD, has been instrumental in the worldwide development of all three major current pharmacological treatment modalities for Alzheimer’s disease: glutamatergic antagonist treatment (memantine), treatment for behavioral disturbances in dementia (risperidone), and cholinesterase inhibitor treatment such as rivastigmine for mild to moderate dementia and donepezil for severe dementia.
The Conformational Disorders Lab, led by Thomas M. Wisniewski, MD, focuses on better understanding neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and prion-related diseases. In addition, the lab works on other neurological conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and stroke. This work has led to more than 210 peer-reviewed publications. The lab has been continuously funded by the NIH and other groups such as the Alzheimer’s Disease Association for more than 20 years. Discoveries from Dr. Wisniewski’s lab include the following:
- identification of the role of apolipoprotein E4 (apoE4) as a “pathological chaperone,” promoting aggregation of amyloid β (Aβ), in Alzheimer’s disease
- development of therapeutic approaches for Alzheimer’s disease based on the apoE–Aβ interaction, which reduces amyloid plaque burden, cerebral amyloid angiopathy, and Aβ oligomer levels, without toxicity
- production of improved immunization approaches for Alzheimer’s disease using nontoxic, nonfibrillogenic Aβ homologous peptides without Th1 epitopes for greater efficacy and lower toxicity
- development of the first active and passive immunization approaches for prion disease, which are effective in wild-type, nongenetically modified model animals
- reporting the first method to image Aβ deposits in model animals using MRI techniques with ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) amyloid-binding ligands, which cross the blood–brain barrier
- characterization of the neuropathological features associated with different types of autism spectrum disorder
- development of a novel therapeutic approach for Alzheimer’s disease by stimulating innate immunity via Toll-like receptors that is effective in multiple Alzheimer’s disease mouse models and also in nonhuman primates
- characterization of a novel immunization approach with a non-self immunogen (pBri) that produces an immune response targeting the shared pathological conformation of both Aβ and tau oligomers, as well as other amyloid-prone proteins
- development of a novel proteomic methodology that allows use of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue and use of this method to help characterize the pathogenesis of rapidly progressive Alzheimer’s disease
- production of novel anti–β-sheet conformational monoclonal antibodies (aβComAb) that have therapeutic potential for multiple neurodegenerative diseases