An award from the Community Foundation of Brevard continues the foundation's generous support for the work of Shaohua Xu, associate professor of biological sciences. The gift was made possible by the Kenneth R. Finken and Dorothy Hallam Finken Endowment Fund for Research into the Cause and Cure of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Xu is using atomic force microscopy to test his unique theory of the origins of Alzheimer's disease. Despite many years of investments and research, there is no effective treatment for Alzheimer's because no one really understands its cause.
By examining the interactions of individual molecules, Xu has discovered the biochemical process that appears to drive the disease; something unsuspected by other researchers in the field. Xu's observations show that normal protein molecules can assemble by without any direction into spherical clumps that then join to form chains. These become the tangled treads that choke brain cells in Alzheimer's.
Working with Xu are Sam Durrance, a former astronaut and Florida Tech professor of physics; several Florida Tech graduate students; and Dr. Daniel Woodard, a physician from Kennedy Space Center,
“Everyone is in a rush for a cure. But without knowing what really causes the disease, we are just shooting in the dark. That's why Dr. Xu's ingenious new theory is so important,” said Woodard.