UT researcher working toward a cure for Alzheimer's

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Dr. Isaac Shiefer is a researcher specializing in Alzheimer's treatment at the University of Toledo. He's received several grants the last few years for his research.

Most recently, he was awarded $2 million from the National Institutes of Health so he can continue working toward his goal of developing a groundbreaking drug to treat Alzheimer's.

Dr. Isaac Shiefer's passion for finding a treatment stems partially from his personal connection. His grandfather passed away from Alzheimer's.

Dr. Shiefer says the majority of Alzheimer's research in the last decade has been focused on amyloid beta, which is a toxic protein in the brain.

That research has been expensive and has failed. That's why he tried something different.

"We made a small subset of compounds. We found one that we thought might improve memory, we gave it to mice, and proved that it did improve memory," said Dr. Shiefer.

Dr. Shiefer's work is patented, published and proven. But the work is far from over when it comes to developing an actual pill to treat Alzheimer's.

"We tested 15 and chose one just for preliminary studies. We need to make dozens or even a few hundred more to make sure that we don't have one that's better than that one," said Dr. Shiefer.

That's what this new money will be used for: to validate the molecule found in previous research is the best one to improve memory in Alzheimer's patients.

"If someone was able to take a pill and all of a sudden you know they started remembering things better and were more capable of carrying out their daily tasks, I think that would be a great thing. That would be a real breakthrough," said Dr. Shiefer.

The Executive Director of the Northwest Ohio chapter of the Alzheimer's Association, Julia Pechlivanos, told 13abc that in metro Toledo around 10,000 people are diagnosed with the disease. She hopes research like Dr. Shiefer's can one day change those numbers.

Click here for information on how to sign up for the Walk To End Alzheimer's happening Saturday in Toledo.