Role of the Herpesvirus dUTPase Proteins in Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD)

Maria Eugenia Ariza, PhD, an Assistant Professor of the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics at Ohio State University is one of the five awarded researchers of the 2019 Microbial Pathogenesis in Alzheimer’s Disease Grant.

Dr. Ariza’s research hopes to demonstrate the engagement of dUTPase proteins with TLR2 is essential for inducing neuroimmune dysfunction and thus, this interaction can be used as a novel target for the development of alternative therapeutics for patients with LOAD and possibly Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Disease.

Before beginning her research year, Dr. Ariza shared what she hopes to accomplish with the Microbial Pathogenesis in Alzheimer’s Disease Grant.

IDSA Foundation Staff: What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

Dr. Ariza: I hope to demonstrate that some Herpesviruses’ dUTPase proteins work in concert with the APOE genetic risk factor of late onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) to cause aberrant inflammation in cells of the brain, resulting in impaired microglial function and production of neurotoxic factors, which contribute to the death of neurons and cognitive decline in patients with LOAD.

IDSA Foundation Staff: How did you come up with this proposed research?

Dr. Ariza: Based on the extensive studies conducted by my group, the large experimental data we have collected over the years on these very unique Herpesvirus dUTPase proteins and the large body of evidence in the literature supporting a role for some member of the Herpesviruses as potential etiological agents of LOAD.

IDSA Foundation Staff: What are you most excited about regarding this research?

Dr. Ariza: I am very excited about studying the interaction of two key risk factors for late onset Alzheimer’s disease, which has never been done before, as well as providing potential mechanisms as to how it happens and delineating the implications for the development of LOAD.

IDSA Foundation Staff: Do you have any advice for others who are thinking of applying for this grant?

Dr. Ariza: My advice to anyone is to Never Give Up on your dreams/goals and to be persistent no matter how frustrating it may get at times. You will get there.

IDSA Foundation Staff: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Dr. Ariza: I am extremely grateful to the funders whose generosity has given me the unique opportunity to pursue very exciting and innovative research studies focused on evaluating potential mechanisms by which herpesviruses dUTPases and genetic risk factors promote late onset Alzheimer’s disease pathology.  I look very much forward to working alongside The IDSA Foundation and the funders. Together we can make a difference and find a cure for this terrible disease.

The IDSA Foundation is ecstatic to see the possible research outcomes of Dr. Ariza’s research.

Now in its third year, we are pleased to offer additional funding of $1,000,000, providing 10-$100,000 research grants for 2020. Consider applying today!

Additionally, The IDSA Foundation will be hosting a free webinar in May, dedicated to helping answer questions you may have while learning more about the Microbial Pathogenesis Alzheimer’s Research Grant. Please complete this form to receive notification when webinar registration opens.