Alzheimer's Disease

Problems/Case Studies

"A Case Study of Memory Loss in Mice". Michael S. Hudecki, University at Buffalo. State University of New York at Buffalo’s National Center for Case Study Teaching
This discussion case explores the scientific process involved in implementing an animal model in the study of Alzheimer's disease. Students read a short paragraph describing a study in which the brains of "trained" mice were injected with beta-amyloid fragments, which subsequently caused them to forget their tasks. The paragraph is a very short New York Times story reporting on an experimental study originally published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Based on the short description provided, students are asked to identify relevant components of the scientific method (problem, method, results, and conclusions).
The case is suitable for a wide variety of science majors and non-majors courses.

CNN Video Clips

Topic: "Predicting Alzheimer’s Disease": Biology 6th Ed. CNN Ed 2002 (2:13)
A prospective study of healthy patients is designed to discover brain changes that precede and predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Volunteers will undergo brain scans every year. Studies have already shown that PET scans can detect patients who will develop memory impairment. Such patients show decreased glucose uptake in a brain area associated with memory. Among patients who are genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, PET scans can detect brain changes before symptoms appear. It is hoped that early diagnosis will lead to treatments to stop the disease in its earliest stages. (Student worksheet provided on CD)

Topic: Alzheimer’s Disease Research: Biology 5th Ed. CNN Ed 2001 (2:09)
Animation shows how the amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease are formed when an enzyme cleaves a brain membrane protein.  Most scientists believe this is how the disease begins.  The next step, the formation of tangles and the death of neurons, is also animated.  The disease may begin as early as age thirty, and early detection may be the key to slowing the disease.  Potential treatments under development include numerous drugs and an experimental vaccine that has shown promise in mice. (Student worksheet provided on CD)


“Does diabetes lurk behind Alzheimer’s? Complications may start downward disease cycle”.  Fackelmann, Kathleen.  
USA Today. 
Type 2 diabetes has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.  Weight gain and type 2 diabetes may trigger the degenerative effects of Alzheimer’s disease.  Up to 16 million people will get Alzheimer’s by 2050.  Losing weight and eating healthy may maintain healthy brain cells.