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Research roundup: Vitamin B fails to halt decline in Alzheimer’s patients

High-dose vitamin B supplements failed to slow the rate of cognitive decline in several hundred patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease in a recent clinical study led by UCSD neurosciences professor Paul S. Aisen, M.D.

Aisen directs the UCSD-based Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, a network spanning the United States and Canada, which conducted the clinical trial. The study was designed to determine if reduction of an amino acid called homocysteine would cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or slow its progression.

Because homocysteine’s metabolism is affected by B vitamins, it was thought supplements might offer a new approach to treating the disease.

The study was published in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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Burnham gets funding

The Burnham Institute for Medical Research has received a grant of $98 million to expand its robotic screening center that is used to identify compounds that could become new medicines.

The funding, a record from the National Institutes of Health, will be used at the institute’s new facility in Lake Nona, Fla., set to open in the spring.

Sejnowski honored

Terry Sejnowski, professor and head of the Salk Institutes’ Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, was elected to the Institute of Medicine. The election honors people who make major contributions in the medical sciences, health care and public health.

Sejnowski’s research focuses on understanding the connections of neurons in the the brain, making it capable of learning and storing memories, work that could lead to clues about Alzheimer’s and other disorders that rob people of the ability to remember.

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Analyzing proteins

UCSD has received a $5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create advanced protein analysis software.

The five-year grant will fund the project at UCSD’s new BiomedicalTechnology Research Center, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Editor’s note: Regular columnist Lynne Friedmann is on vacation.