SMU Researchers’ Alzheimer’s Discovery Could Change Future Treatments

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James McCormick and Lauren Ammerman are two research partners in a lab at Dallas’ Southern Methodist University. Both researchers spent most of their time in the lab focused on unlocking the secrets of Alzheimer’s disease.

Both researchers have had personal connections with the disease. Two of Ammerman’s grandparents suffered through the disease, while McCormick’s grandmother also suffered the disease.

“It was pretty difficult for me because I had lived with her my entire life, so it came as a human curiosity that kept pulling on a thread,” McCormick said.
The two researchers looked into whether a transporter protein in the brain could move away the protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease — the amyloid-beta protein.

McCormick said he had seen previous research showing that Alzheimer’s can happen faster in people who have deficiencies in this protein.

McCormick used models on the lab’s supercomputer while Ammerman conducted lab experiments. The two researchers discovered that the “good” protein could clear out the “bad” one. The research findings have now been published for other scientists to build on.

“What will be super exciting for both of us will be watching other researchers take that information and run with it and do amazing things with it,” Ammerman said.
The two scientists also made another discovery in the lab. McCormick and Ammerman are now engaged to be married, and their love story was born of a desire to help fight Alzheimer’s disease.

The two are now researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, and their wedding will be held at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

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