Summer 2001 (9.2)
like to tell your readers about a new joint collaboration between
the United States and Azerbaijan for the research of Alzheimer's
disease. This degenerative brain disease is still quite a mystery
to medical science and cannot even be diagnosed in every case.
At first, the disease's destruction of brain cells causes a person
to forget recent events or familiar tasks. Eventually, it causes
confusion, personality and behavior changes and impaired judgment.
Communication becomes difficult as the affected person struggles
to find words, finish thoughts or follow directions. Most Alzheimer's
patients eventually become unable to care for themselves.
No one knows exactly what causes Alzheimer's disease. Understanding
its underlying mechanisms will provide the basis for advances
in all other areas of research, including diagnosis, treatment,
prevention and care.
How many people are affected by Alzheimer's disease? In the United
States, for example, one in every 10 persons over the age of
65 and nearly half of those over 85 has Alzheimer's disease.
Today, 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. Unless a
cure or means of prevention is found, that number is expected
to jump to 14 million by the year 2050. Worldwide, it is estimated
that 22 million individuals will develop Alzheimer's disease
by the year 2025. This disease affects caregivers, too. In a
national survey in the United States, 19 million Americans said
they have a family member with Alzheimer's disease, and 37 million
said they knew someone with the disease.
What is being done to find a cure or help with prevention? Alzheimer's
research is being tackled from many angles. Pharmaceutical companies,
the U.S. federal government and the Alzheimer's Association are
funding research to learn more about the disease process and
find compounds for treatment.
My own work at the Laboratory of Electron Microscopy at Case
Western Reserve University has led to the discovery of some possible
major mechanisms in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Much
has been learned this last year alone, as researchers have been
able to narrow down some of its risk factors. Genetics seems
to play a role, which may explain why Azerbaijanis are at major
risk for the disease - a large number of Azerbaijanis intermarry
with blood relatives. Other contributing factors in Azerbaijan
include a diet full of saturated fat from meat products (such
as lamb) and a large amount of the population affected by cardiovascular
and cerebrovascular diseases.
As a result of our research in Cleveland, we have been able to
develop new techniques that enable brain imaging by use of a
simple injection of special drugs via intra-nasal passages, which
can be used for diagnostic and treatment purposes.
Hopefully this basic research will facilitate future studies
into the clinical and pathological features of the development
of Alzheimer's disease in a study we are conducting in Azerbaijan.
Scientific collaboration has already begun with the Azerbaijan
Medical University under the direction of Dr. Eldar Gasimov,
Professor and Chairman of the Department of Cytology, Histology
I am the author of more than 150 scientific papers and abstracts,
plus a book in the field of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular
diseases including Alzheimer's. In addition, six papers with
my Azerbaijani collaborator have already been accepted for publication
in internationally recognized scientific journals in the field
of Alzheimer's study. The summary of this work will be presented
at the 31st World Neuroscience Congress in San Diego (November
It's no coincidence that I have chosen to become involved with
Azerbaijanis in this endeavor. Azerbaijan is my homeland, and
Professor Gasimov was one of my former teachers at Azerbaijan
Medical University. Today I am a U.S. citizen and make my home
I believe it is very important for Azerbaijan to connect with
the international community on scientific projects like this
one. We Azerbaijanis living abroad can make invaluable links
with our colleagues back home in facilitating such worthy collaborations
In this case, we hope our research will open a new window for
future studies into the causes, diagnosis, treatment, prevention
and cure of this devastating disease. Not only do Azerbaijanis
and their families afflicted with this disease stand to benefit,
but we hope many victims of this illness all over the world may
be helped, too.
Aliyev, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Research Investigator / Director of the Electron Microscopy
Department of Anatomy and Neurology
Case Western Reserve University, School of Medicine
(9.2) Summer 2001.
© Azerbaijan International 2001. All rights reserved.
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