Local scientist receives large grant for neurodegenerative disease research

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Nick Cochran wants to fight neurodegenerative diseases and now he’s got a $200,000 grant to make a difference in the fight.

One goal is to combat the amount Americans spend on healthcare for these diseases.

“We’re spending a lot of money on care for neurodegenerative diseases in this country and we want to do the research that eventually could help with new treatments,” explained Cochran.

The research being conducted focuses on one gene specifically.

“This grant is to understand what we call regulation of a gene that codes for a protein called Tau,” he added.

HudsonAlpha said they are working to figure out what causes the Tau protein to activate in the brain.

This protein is one that increases with neurodegenerative disease and with their findings HudsonAlpha hopes to figure out what it takes to lower the Tau protein in the brain.

“The reason we want to go after tau, is because tau is involved in a lot of different neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, Frontotemporal dementia and even has genetic signals associated with Parkinson’s disease. So the effects of tau are wide-reaching,” Cochran added.

Cochran said neurodegenerative diseases are becoming more common and many of them have no cure and very little treatment available.

But he believes there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“I really think the future is bright on working towards treatments, we’re just trying to do our part there on the basic science side to really give those new targets.”

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