Campus Launches Alzheimer’s Study

A new landmark Alzheimer’s disease study that will allow UCSD researchers to examine brain and other biological changes associated with memory decline has been authorized by the National Institute on Aging.

The five-year, $60 million study will give researchers the opportunity to speed up the search for treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s disease by seeing whether imaging of the brain can help predict and monitor the onset and progression of the degenerative memory disease.

The study, spearheaded by Leon Thal, chair of the UCSD neurosciences department and director of UCSD’s Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, will also collect and test patient blood samples and cerebral spinal fluid to determine if they can help predict and monitor the onset of the disease.

Researchers hope that imaging techniques will prove useful in testing the effectiveness of new therapies that try to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or prevent it altogether.

Clerical Employees Sign New Contract

The UC Clerical Employees’ Union agreed to a new multiyear contract with the university last week, which gives clerical employees a 12-percent wage increase over the next three years.

The agreement, valid through September 2008, also allows UC clerical employees to continue to receive the same health benefits given to all UC employees and leaves in place the university’s salary-based approach to health care premiums that lets those who earn less pay less for the same health coverage. The new contract also prohibits the union from conducting any strikes, including sympathy walkouts, for the duration of the agreement.

Mousie Model Helps Drug Production

Researchers from the UCSD School of Medicine have developed a mouse model that could help scientists develop better drugs for autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

UCSD professor of medicine Mark H. Ginsburg served as team leader of the study. His team identified a mechanism in mice to selectively disrupt signaling cells called lymphocytes sent by the body to to fight infection at sites of inflammation, while also maintaining the body’s other essential immune system functions.

The researchers suggest that mice are valuable tools to test models of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases of humans, and that a new class of pharmaceutical agents that target the interaction of surface molecules found on the exterior of cells could be important in finding future treatments for inflammatory disease.