Alzheimer’s & Down Syndrome: A Link?

2-Dr-Huntington-PotterOn February 11, 2014 Dr. Huntington Potter, Director of the Anschutz Alzheimer’s Program, discussed the latest findings in the area of Alzheimer’s.

Cutting-edge research spearheaded by Dr. Potter has discovered the same genetic hallmarks in Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s—3 copies of chromosome 21. This cellular mistake triggers a disastrous cycle of plaque-building protein in both groups of patients, though those with Down syndrome start accumulating the protein earlier and Alzheimer’s patients start generating it later. Since 100% of Down patients develop Alzheimer’s-like plaques and tangles in their brains, but only 50% ultimately develop dementia, Dr. Potter’s latest research focuses on whether differences in diet, lifestyle or environment contribute to the Down distinction.

The hope: his work will lead to revolutionary drugs and other therapies for preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2012 Denver was thrilled to be able to lure renowned, award-winning scientist, Huntington Potter, PhD, to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus where he has launched a new clinical care center. His lab studies the mechanism by which Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome arise.  They research drugs that could ameliorate or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Previously, Potter studied, researched and taught for 30 years at Harvard. He went on to direct acclaimed Alzheimer’s disease research centers and institutes, where he developed seven new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in preparation for human trials.  He is the author of more than 100 scientific articles and books, is the holder of 15 U.S. and foreign patents, has sat on scientific advisory and review committees in academia, industry and government, and has received numerous awards for his work.

“Alzheimer’s disease is an immense and increasing problem across the population, and particularly for adults with Down syndrome,” said John J. Sie. “The appointment of Hunt Potter demonstrates that the Crnic Institute is engaged in research that will change the outcome for these individuals.”