Tom Lane, left, and Kim Green.
Biologists Tom Lane, left, and Kim Green will use Alzheimer’s Association funding to support their work. UCI

UCI biologists Kim Green and Tom Lane have been awarded $250,000 from the Alzheimer’s Association to assess how COVID-19 affects the onset and severity of Alzheimer’s disease.

Decades of research indicate that viral or bacterial infections may contribute to the onset of the Alzheimer’s and worsen its pathological changes in the brain, suggesting that infection-mediated inflammation may increase the susceptibility of developing AD later in life. This is further highlighted in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, as SARS2 infection is associated with a worsening of clinical symptoms in elderly patients with dementia.

In their study, Green and Lane will infect novel transgenic mice with SARS-CoV2 and determine how the virus influences the development and underlying mechanisms of AD pathologies. With the information they discover, the researchers hope to better understand how immune responses triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection affect the central nervous system and to identify potentially novel therapies that limit AD pathology.