POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- A Fox Lane High School student could be on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough.
Charlotte Herber, a Pound Ridge resident, recently received the Acorda Scientific Excellence Award for her research project related to Alzheimer’s disease.
Her study is entitled "Evidence of TLR-9 Mediated Amelioration of Amyloid Pathology in a TgSwDI Mouse Model of Alzheimer's." Her research has resulted in an emerging method of passive immunization to prevent and break apart the amyloid plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease without adverse side effects.
As a member of the Fox Lane science research project, Herber became involved with a research lab facility affiliated with New York University School of Medicine studying Alzheimer's.
Herber investigated the ability of short DNA sequences to safely and effectively cause the removal of protein plaques implicated in Alzheimer's.
The scientists tested their work on mice, staining and examining their brains in treated and non-treated mice.
The mice that were treated with the DNA sequences performed the same as mice that never had Alzheimer's.
"We reversed the cognitive degeneration," Herber said. "It was really striking. We showed no signs of side effects and no likelihood of brain swelling."
Next up for the scientists is testing on monkeys before any clinical trials on humans are done.
"I am very happy to be allowed to be on the cutting edge," Herber said. "The brain is one of the last frontiers of science and research."
Alzheimer's is the most common degenerative disease, and is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s disease is expected to affect 1/85 people and cost $1.2 trillion by 2050.
Herber said it was extremely humbling and very challenging to work on the research project.
"I have learned a lot about the scientific process," Herber said. "It's so exciting to conduct research and design experiments."
Herber called it a privilege to work with her more experienced colleagues.
"It was a little daunting," Herber said. "If you show them a positive attitude and admit your ignorance, people are willing to teach you. I worked very hard, I wasn't just latching on and pushing people or cleaning glassware. My experience was very positive, they were very welcoming."