Spring 2002 (10.1)
Studying Alzheimer's Disease
Dr. Gumrah Aliyev, medical researcher at Case Western Reserve University
School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, has recently been
awarded two major grants for funding study on Alzheimer's disease.
The first grant, from the U.S. Presidential New Technology Development
Grant Foundation, provides $50,000 each year for direct research;
the second, from the Philip Morris External Research Program,
is a three-year research grant for $680,000. Aliyev [whose name
is sometimes spelled through Russian as Gjumrakch Aliev] is an
Azerbaijani from Nakhchivan and holds an M.D. from the Baku Medical
Institute (cum laude, 1982) as well as a Ph.D. and Doctor of
Sciences degree from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the
University College of London (1989, 1995). He currently co-directs
the Microscopy Research Center at Case Western Reserve University,
School of Medicine, which focuses on the study of cardiovascular
and cerebrovascular diseases as well as tumors and especially
the role of brain blood flow and metabolism.
Dr. Gumrah Aliyev
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease
that affects millions of people worldwide, 4 million of these
just in the United States. According to the Alzheimer's Association,
by 2025, an estimated 22 million people worldwide will have Alzheimer's.
Patients with this disease suffer from memory loss, disorientation,
confusion, mood swings and even changes in personality. The disease
is difficult for doctors to diagnose, as they have to first eliminate
all other possible causes or disorders that could be causing
the dementia. As yet, there is no cure for Alzheimer's.
Dr. Aliyev's goal is to find out how to diagnose Alzheimer's
disease in its earlier stages. With an early diagnosis, Alzheimer's
patients would have time to plan for the future and could begin
treatment sooner to try to slow the effects of the disease.
Both grants will support his ongoing research, which uses genetically
engineered mice as a model for studying Alzheimer's in humans.
Specifically, he is studying the development of Alzheimer's disease
in mice that are exposed to hypoxia [oxygen deficiency], thereby
mimicking the effects of smoking on humans. "I'm looking
at Alzheimer's disease as a vascular disease with neurological
consequences," Aliyev says. "I want to find out how
smoking affects the development of cerebrovascular diseases,
and therefore Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular diseases
Another major part of the grant will go toward the study of the
possible protective effect of natural antioxidants such as a
flavonoid derivative - namely Morin hydrate, which is derived
from a plant in the Brazilian rain forest. This antioxidant may
block or at least delay the development of Alzheimer's, Aliyev
He has authored more than 250 articles, including a recent article
on Alzheimer's disease that has been considered one of the top
studies worldwide in the Alzheimer's research field; this article
was published in the January 2002 issue of "Brain Pathology."
He is an editorial board member for three medical journals: "Journal
of Submicroscopic Cytology and Pathology," "Journal
of Alzheimer's Disease" and "Histology and Histopathology."
He will also be featured in the upcoming 2002 edition of "Who's
Who in Medicine and Healthcare."
One day, Aliyev hopes to set up a special Aging Research Center
in Azerbaijan. He believes that cardiovascular, cerebrovascular
and neurodegenerative diseases all have a common background and
therefore can be treated in similar ways. Moreover, since genetic
factors are directly related to the onset of Alzheimer's and
cardiovascular diseases, Azerbaijan's population - with its traditional
tendency toward intermarriage between close relatives - is at
high risk for the disease. Unfortunately, there has not yet been
any study or focus on preventing these diseases in Azerbaijan.
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