Alzheimer’s, diabetes research using the MURDOCK Study in Kannapolis

Duke researchers are using MURDOCK Study samples to better understand Alzheimer’s disease and...
Duke researchers are using MURDOCK Study samples to better understand Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes.(Duke CTSI)
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 6:36 AM EDT
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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (WBTV) - Using the MURDOCK Study, Duke University researchers are learning more about Alzheimer’s disease and why older people with diabetes have a higher risk of broken bones.

A team led by Dr. Daniel Parker, assistant professor of medicine, tapped into the MURDOCK Study registry and found more evidence linking the disruption of a key metabolic pathway in the body with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The MURDOCK Study is a community-based health research project managed by Duke Kannapolis at the North Carolina Research Campus.

Using a cohort of MURDOCK participants designed by the Duke Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, Parker’s team in Durham found that dysregulated kynurenine pathway metabolism may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as reported in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The findings provide more evidence that interventions targeting the pathway may help prevent and treat memory disorders.

“As a large and well-characterized community-based cohort, MURDOCK provides an unparalleled opportunity to identify risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” said Parker, who specializes in cognitive and physical function in older adults. “Insights gained from MURDOCK will allow us to develop better treatments for this devastating disease.”

Blood samples and data from the MURDOCK Study also helped Duke researchers identify new indicators of fracture risk among older people with diabetes.

Older adults with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of broken bones, even though they have higher-than-average bone mineral density. A team led by Dr. Richard H. Lee, assistant professor of medicine, studied MURDOCK participants with type 2 diabetes who also experienced a bone fracture.

Lee’s team used MURDOCK samples, self-reported fractures, and electronic medical records to assess the association between broken bones and metabolic profile in this at-risk population. The research identified new markers of fracture risk and suggested how they may work, as reported in Osteoporosis International.

“The MURDOCK Study played a key role in our research to identify really novel risk factors,” said Lee, who specializes in metabolic bone disease and osteoporosis. “Ultimately, this will help us prevent more fractures in patients.”

Duke Kannapolis is part of the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute and is directed by Dr. Svati H. Shah.