University of Kentucky College of Public Health biostatistics professor, Dr. David Fardo, and fellow Kentucky colleague, Dr. Peter T. Nelson of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, have received the 2014 Asao Hirano Prize for best paper on neurodegenerative disease. The award, which is given by the American Association of Neuropathologists (AANP), was presented to Dr. Fardo and Dr. Nelson at the Association’s annual conference in Portland, Oregon, in June.
Dr. Fardo and Dr. Nelson’s research, titled “Hippocampal Sclerosis of Aging (HS-A): Connecting Genomics and Other Risk Factor Data”, attempted to identify genetic predisposition to HS-A in a genone-wide association study (GWAS) by comparing 363 individuals with autopsy-proven HS-A to a control group of over 2,300 others. GWA studies of this type explore linkages between a disease and the genetic factors that can contribute to them.
HS-A is a condition affecting as many as 15 percent of people over the age of 85. With symptoms that closely parallel those of Alzheimer’s disease, patients suffering from HS-A are often misdiagnosed.
Dr. Fardo and Dr. Nelson’s research found that small changes in the ABCC9 gene – or Sulfonylurea Receptor 2 – closely paralleled the incidence of HS-A. Statistical analysis also showed a link between the use of sulfonylurea, which is commonly used to treat diabetes, and an increased risk of HS-A.