(July 31, 2017) -- Hyoung-gon Lee, the John H. Doran Distinguished Professor in Peripheral Neuropathy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), is pursuing a new frontier in Alzheimer’s disease research.
Lee’s Alzheimer’s work has mainly been focused on understanding how brain cells degenerate during the disease. His current work suggests that there may be a new way forward in preventing and treating the illness.
“Once a neuron is born in the brain, division stops,” Lee said. “That’s a unique characteristic of neurons. Other types of cells regenerate after they’re damaged, but when neurons die, we’ve lost them.”
This is one of the reasons why Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases have such disastrous effects on the health of the human brain. The neurons, once damaged by the disease, are unable to heal themselves.
Lee’s recent research, however, suggests that the neurons in an Alzheimer’s brain attempt to divide before they die. He’s now working to understand why.
“In normal, healthy neurons, the capability to divide is not active at all,” he said. “A normal brain cell has no cell cycle activity, but in Alzheimer’s-affected brains, it looks as if neurons are trying to divide.”
“It’s paradoxical,” he added. “But it could be the key to solving a great medical mystery. Knowing more about Alzheimer’s disease will make it much easier to fight it because we’ll have a better understanding of the specific cause.”
Lee and his laboratory are now developing an animal model to take a closer look at neuron death in Alzheimer’s-affected brains.
Lee’s laboratory is just one of several dozen at the university specializing in brain health, an extensive initiative that includes research in neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury, regenerative medicine, stem cell therapies, medicinal chemistry, neuroinflammation and drug design.
This work is conducted across five top-tier UTSA research centers, including the UTSA Neurosciences Institute, the San Antonio Cellular Therapeutics Institute, the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Center for Innovative Drug Discovery and the Institute for Health Disparities Research.
Leading the brain health revolution is one of UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s “Quantum Leap” initiatives to provide the citizens of Texas the very best in higher education, research and health care. Chancellor McRaven has worked to make unprecedented investments in leveraging and connecting all the cutting edge science ongoing at UT institutions to drive collaboration and expand research efforts in brain health to meet a growing demand.
UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.
Learn more about the brain health research at UTSA.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Biology.
The Department of Social Work introduces new students to the Master of Social Work program.Buena Vista Street Building Assembly Room (BVB 1.338), Downtown Campus
The kickoff to Roadrunner Days, the UTSA community welcomes the thousands of students who move in to their new homes as they begin their journey at UTSA.Various residence halls, Main Campus
After a full day of moving, UTSA students and their families are invited to the party featuring food, swag, dancing and a special performance from the Spirit of San Antonio marching band.Student Union Paseo, Main Campus
This come and go session allows Roadrunners and their families to explore all the great things the UTSA Libraries offers to help students succeed. Join a group on a quest through the library for a chance at prizes and enjoy some ice cream.John Peace Library, Main Campus
Fast Action Trivia is a game where participants interact with fellow Roadrunners to test their brain skills while learning some interesting things about UTSA and have a chance to win actual cash money!Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
This UTSA tradition is a fun, engaging opportunity for Roadrunners to learn about the facilities, recreation programs and wellness services offered at the Main and Downtown Campuses while also enjoying tons of games and activities with new and old friends.Recreation and Wellness Center Texas Room (RWC 2.214) and San Antonio Room (RWC 2.218), Main Campus
The UTSA Ambassadors are here to help students find their classes before the first day of school! Bring your class schedule to the UTSA Ambassadors table in the Student Union Ski Lodge (near Chili’s Too!), and they will help you navigate the campus to find your classes.Student Union Ski Lodge (SU 1.01.00), Main Campus
Kickback at the Union is a welcome back event for new and returning Roadrunners. Come relax and learn about the Student Union, enjoy free food, games, photo booth, and a chance to connect with each department in the Union. Arrive early for free t-shirt and stay late for a movie.Student Union Paseo and Buildings, Main Campus