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Alzheimer's disease is a lengthy progression of neuronal degeneration, which leads to
a total loss of brain function and death. While it is known that the amyloid precursor protein
(APP) gene plays a critical role in Alzheimer’s disease, it is difficult to study the pathology
of the disease due to the problems with obtaining live human neurons. However, one route of
advancement in this field is the use of fibroblasts induced into pluripotent stem cells, and
then further differentiated into neurons to be studied in vivo. Our eventual goal is to infect
human embryonic stem cells with a virus carrying the APP gene, which would cause
overexpression of the gene when the cells differentiate. These cells would then be valuable
tools in studying the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. The research presented here focuses
on testing the success of this neuronal differentiation process as a first step towards
developing this model of the disease.