(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.
Infection, Immunity and Vaccines discussed during this two day conference.The Eilan Hotel and Spa, 18603 La Cantera Terr., San Antonio
UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty and staff will conduct a presentation on recent developments in astronomy and astrophysics followed by stargazing in the observatory.Flawn Sciences Building (FLN 2.02.02) and Curtis Vaughan Jr. Observatory, 4th floor, Main Campus
The annual concert series begins the choirs and orchestra performing Dvorak's "Te Deum" . This concert is open to the public. Admission $10.Arts Building Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
All UTSA faculty, staff and students are invited to attend open forums featuring finalist candidates for the position of vice provost and dean of the UTSA Graduate School.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
The second of three in the annual holiday concert series which will feature the Chamber Singers (Santa Baby), Saxophone Ensemble (Sleigh Ride), Jazz Ensemble (Sugar Rum Cherry), Flute Ensemble and more performing holiday favorites. Admission $10.Arts Building Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
The Roadrunners close out the regular season at home against North Texas.Alamodome, 100 Montana St., San Antonio
This event showcases innovative student projects and research performed across multiple disciplines. The symposium is designed to provide a public venue where UTSA senior engineering students to present advances achieved in their design projects.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
Join the Office of Information Technology for the grand opening of the Digital Experience Lab (DEx Lab). The DEx Lab is open to the entire UTSA community and contains innovative learning tools and serves as a virtual reality lab.Applied Engineering and Technology Building (AET 0.202), Main Campus