emma zheng

The future of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease depends on detecting pathological signs early and providing treatment that can delay and prevent its onset.

Emma Zheng has been granted the 2015 Spark Award and she plans to help in our quest for a cure by developing a biomarker test and analytic tools that to assist in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Over the next two years Emma aims to develop a simple and reliable mass spectrometry based assay that could quantify TDP-43 isoforms in bioflluids that are involved in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis.

“My aim is to investigate new biomarkers and analytical tools that can be used in research today” she says, “and ultimately assist in the diagnosis of individuals with neurodegenerative disorders. My hope is that through the support of this award I will develop a test that will help with dementia research and ultimately patent care.”

spark award: $100,000

There is evidence that TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43), its hyper-phosphorylated, ubiquitinated and cleaved forms lead to protein mislocalization and aggregation; likely contributing to Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia pathogenesis. However, the role of TDP-43 as a potential in vivo biomarker is unclear, as the current technologies to characterize and quantitate TDP-43 isoforms are limited. Our objective is to develop a method that can identify and selectively quantitate the various forms of TDP-43 in vivo, and search for novel TDP-43 variants. We will assess the diagnostic potential of these biomarkers as new diagnostic tools. Our aim is to investigate new biomarkers and analytical tools that can be used in research and, ultimately, to assist in the differential diagnosis of individuals with neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.