Update from the Board 2010

Posted December 17, 2010

Dear Friends,
Our focus on funding high-quality, innovative work is fueling great progress in Alzheimer’s research.

It has been an outstanding year at Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Our strategy of using a business and venture approach for funding research is working. We’ve been recognized in The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine and AARP, featured on NPR and CNN.com and invited to exclusive conferences at the White House, TEDMED and the Milken Institute.

But more importantly, our research is making exceptional progress.

Genetics—In the 104 years after Alois Alzheimer identified the disease, researchers identified only four genes that play a role in the disease. With Cure Alzheimer’s Fund’s support, Rudy Tanzi and his team at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified 120 new candidate genes that affect risk for the disease. More genes mean more understanding of the origins of the disease and a quicker path to effective therapies.

Oligomer summary—CAF-supported research has confirmed that clusters (called “oligomers”) of the Abeta peptide (small protein) form the key toxic element of Alzheimer’s pathology.

Paradigm-shifting discoveries—CAF-funded research recently has shown the Abeta peptide may be a part of the innate immune system in the brain, which strongly suggests effective therapies must modulate or control Abeta production and clearance, not destroy it.

Dimebon—CAF research contributed to an understanding that this recently hailed “wonder drug” for Alzheimer’s really is not.

Drug discovery—Work based on the four Alzheimer’s genes identified almost 25 years ago has led to very promising new compounds that may be much more effective at controlling the production of Abeta, its formulation into oligomers and/or its clearance from the brain.

But the problem is mounting and we need your help to get to a cure.

Alzheimer’s is going to strike half of us who live to be older than 85. As baby boomers move into this age range, Alzheimer’s will bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid, to say nothing of the emotional and economic burden it will bestow on families and caregivers.

To end Alzheimer’s, we think it is imperative to focus private funding on research that is innovative, of the highest quality, speed-driven and results-oriented. Our funded work—upholding these values—can change the research landscape of Alzheimer’s drastically and make great progress toward therapeutic intervention and an end to the disease.

Research is the only way we are going to get to a cure. If you’ve already given to support our research this year, we sincerely thank you. If you have not yet made a contribution to research, we urge you to give generously. Our founders pay all CAF overhead costs, so 100 percent of your dollars goes to research.

Together we can end this terrible disease.

With best regards and wishes for a joyful holiday season.

Henry McCance, Jeff and Jacqui Morby and Phyllis and Jerry Rappaport