November 2019


Biogen to File for FDA Approval for Aducanumab

After declaring aducanumab a failure earlier in 2019, new data from Biogen’s clinical trial suggests the drug may help slow cognitive decline in some patients. In 2020, Biogen intends to file for FDA approval of the drug which targets the accumulation of beta amyloid.


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New Drug Conditionally Approved for Alzheimer’s Disease in China

On Nov 1st, 2019, Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceutical, a Chinese company, received conditional approval from China’s National Medical Products Administration to market an orally administered drug, Oligomannate, aimed at reducing cognitive decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.


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A Tale of Two Neurodegenerative Diseases

ATXN1 is a rare Alzheimer’s associated gene that has been studied in the neurodegenerative disorder, Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1. Drs. Rudy Tanzi and Huda Zoghbi were interested in determining whether the loss of ATXN1 would lead to biochemical changes that resembled the changes observed in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund provided a grant for this study, and the paper, published in Cell – one of the leading scientific journalsThis paper is groundbreaking for its ability to demonstrate a unique regulatory mechanism by which ATXN1, a gene more commonly associated with motor neurodegeneration, can affect BACE1 levels. An increase in BACE1 expression can negatively impact learning, memory, and the birth of new neurons.


Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D. & Huda Zoghbi, M.D., & Jaehong Suh, Ph.D.

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Decreased Levels of TREM2 Leads to Impaired Function of the Microglia, Part of the Brain’s Immune Defense System

Individuals who inherit a variant of the TREM2 gene have up to a 4x increase in their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. A new study from a grant provided by Cure Alzheimer’s Fund was published in Nature Neuroscience and offers insights into why individuals who carry this genetic mutation have increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and an accelerated rate of cognitive decline.


Marco Colonna, M.D., David Holtzman, M.D., & Jason Ulrich, Ph.D.

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Update from the Society for Neuroscience:

Auditory Stimulation Combined with Light Improves Alzheimer’s Like Symptoms in Mice

When we are deeply engaged in a cognitive task like decision making, there is research to suggest that this triggers the neurons in the brain to fire in specific patterns called gamma oscillations. It has been observed that the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease have a decrease in the number of these neural fluctuations. What if there was a way to non-invasively stimulate the brain to create more gamma oscillations?

A team led by Dr. Li-Huei Tsai at MIT has explored this question and the research was presented at a recent meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.


Li-Huei Tsai, Ph.D.

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Congratulations to Alexandra Newton, Ph.D., Beth Stevens, Ph.D., and Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D.

Alexandra Newton, Ph.D. of the University of California San Diego has received the Biophysical Society Award in the Biophysics of Health and Disease. Dr. Newton is being honored for research that identified the role of deregulated protein kinase C activity in Alzheimer’s disease. In a press release from the Biophysical Society, President Dave Piston said: “The ultimate goal of biomedical research, no matter how basic, is to eventually have an impact on human health. Alexandra is an innovative researcher whose work on PKC disease mutations in causing cancer and neurodegenerative diseases is proving critical to developing new treatments and pathways to prevention. We are excited to call attention to her work in this area.” The Biophysical Society honors significant contributions to understanding the fundamental causes of disease or research that enables treatment or prevention.

Beth Stevens, Ph.D. of Boston Children’s Hospital has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Stevens’ pioneering work has redefined our understanding of how wiring in the brain occurs in early life and her research has uncovered novel insights into the mechanisms by which the nervous and immune systems interact in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease. In a press release from the National Academy of Medicine, President Victor Dzau remarked, “The expertise of the newly elected members will be vital to addressing today’s most pressing health and scientific challenges and informing the future of health and medicine for the benefit of us all. I am honored to welcome these esteemed individuals to the National Academy of Medicine.” Membership in the National Academy of Medicine is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.

Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D. of Massachusetts General Hospital and Chair of the Research Leadership Group for Cure Alzheimer’s Fund has been awarded the Dr. Frederic A. Gibbs Discovery Award. This award for scientific achievement honored Dr. Tanzi’s commitment to research identifying the genetic causes of Alzheimer’s disease. His doctoral thesis was on the discovery and isolation of the first Alzheimer’s gene – the amyloid precursor protein (APP) – and was published in SCIENCE. Dr. Tanzi was part of the team that discovered the other two early-onset Alzheimer’s genes known as the presenilins-1 and -2. This award was presented by the Brain Research Foundation in support of research that is groundbreaking with a likelihood of leading to novel therapeutic strategies.


Alexandra Newton, Ph.D., Beth Stevens, Ph.D., Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D.

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