Nonprofit has funded 29 projects this year to help cure Alzheimer's disease, with more grants to come
WELLESLEY, Mass., Sept. 19, 2016 -- Cure Alzheimer's Fund has announced today that the nonprofit has issued more than $6 million in research grants this year to scientists looking to advance our knowledge of Alzheimer's disease or to develop effective therapies to treat or cure it. Since the beginning of the year, the organization has funded 29 projects across the country and around the world, with more grants to come. The organization funds research related to Alzheimer's disease on a rolling basis throughout the year. In 2014, Cure Alzheimer's Fund dispersed a total of $5.4 million.
"Every year, we see more exciting scientific breakthroughs in the fight to develop effective treatments to Alzheimer's disease," said Tim Armour, President and CEO of Cure Alzheimer's Fund. "Cure Alzheimer's Fund is pleased to provide critical early stage funding to some of the most promising research projects that help us comprehend and treat this destructive disease."
Among the projects funded so far this year:
- A study looking at the relationship between sex-based differences and the risk for Alzheimer's disease ($151,000)
This study by Murali Doraiswamy, M.D. of Duke University Medical Center will use novel "big data" computational methodologies to look at the relationship between sex differences and cognitive decline in people at risk for Alzheimer's. Some recent findings suggest that women with mild cognitive impairment may progress to Alzheimer's disease at faster rates than men. However, the biological basis of the sex differences in Alzheimer's is debated and warrants a more detailed examination, which this project will pursue.
- A project looking at genes, brain activity and the pathology of Alzheimer's disease ($150,000)
This project, by Karen Duff, Ph.D. of Columbia University/NYSPI and Tal Nuriel, Ph.D. of Columbia University Medical Center, will utilize sophisticated techniques to measure important genes and proteins known to increase brain activity to see if they have any impact on the disease's pathology.
Carriers of the APOE4 gene are at significantly increased risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. It has been found that aging mice that express the APOE4 gene possess increased activity in a region of the brain implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers believe this increased activity may be an important link between APOE4 and Alzheimer's disease pathology. They anticipate the results of this study will yield significant insights into the biology of APOE4 and Alzheimer's disease, as well as how Alzheimer's disease may be treated or prevented in these individuals.
- A study examining the early role of microglia in synapse loss in Alzheimer's disease ($150,000)
The research being conducted by Beth Stevens, Ph. D. of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, will look at the possibility that microglia – brain immune cells – are crucial components to synapse loss in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
The synapses are the brain's major communications hubs. Those suffering from Alzheimer's disease lose synapses in the hippocampus. In the healthy developing brain, a set of immune molecules – called complement – and microglia prune and eliminate excess synapses in that region of the brain. In healthy mature brains, the brain's pruning pathway is mostly turned off. But the researchers speculate that these cells are acting as improper mediators of synapse loss in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. This study will further our knowledge on this complex process in the brain and to advance our understanding of potential therapeutic treatments.
"Researchers around the world are making important contributions to our understanding of Alzheimer's disease and the ways we can effectively treat it," said Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Chair of Cure Alzheimer's Fund's Research Consortium. "Cure Alzheimer's Fund has been a significant part of those efforts because the organization's early funding has allowed scientists to further develop their research projects and their understanding of how we might treat this disease."
In addition to funding crucial projects, Cure Alzheimer's Fund also provided critical early stage dollars to important research published this year. In May, Drs. Rob Moir and Rudy Tanzi of Harvard Medical School published a study in Science Translational Medicine that suggested that Alzheimer's disease may arise when the brain perceives itself to be under attack from invading pathogens and launches amyloid formation. In July, Sangram Sisodia, Ph.D. of the University of Chicago, along with his co-authors, released a paper in Scientific Reports that indicated that treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics over a long period of time decreased the levels of amyloid plaques and triggered the development of inflammatory microglial cells in the brains of mice. Both research projects received grants from Cure Alzheimer's Fund.
Cure Alzheimer's Fund is a non-profit dedicated to funding the most promising research to prevent, slow or reverse Alzheimer's disease. Since its founding in 2004, Cure Alzheimer's Fund has contributed over $45 million to research, and its funded initiatives have been responsible for several key breakthroughs – including the groundbreaking "Alzheimer's in a Dish" study. Cure Alzheimer's Fund has received a score of 100 percent regarding its overall financial health from Charity Navigator and a four star rating from the organization five times. With 100 percent of funds raised going directly to research, Cure Alzheimer's has been able to support some of the best scientific minds in the field of Alzheimer's research.