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BrightFocus Research Grants Funding
Grant Funding for Alzheimer's Research
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Alzheimer's Disease Research - Current Awards

Dr. Steven E. Arnold

Steven E. Arnold, M.D.

University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, United States

Title: Effect of Insulin Sensitizer Metformin on Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarkers
Non-Technical Title: A Trial of the Anti-Diabetes Drug Metformin for Alzheimer's Disease
Duration: July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2015

Summary: Previous studies and Dr. Steven Arnold’s laboratory work have shown that the brain in Alzheimer's disease is resistant to the healthy growth effects of insulin and that re-sensitizing brain cells to insulin may be a useful therapeutic strategy. Dr. Steven Arnold and colleagues have identified the anti-diabetes drug, metformin, as a safe medicine that enters the brain and re-sensitizes insulin receptors. This proposal seeks to conduct an efficient clinical trial with metformin in people with mild cognitive impairment and early dementia due to Alzheimer's disease to determine its effect on cognitive functioning and physiological and biochemical biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Standard
$300,000



Hirohide Asai, MD, PhD

Hirohide Asai, M.D., Ph.D.

Boston University School of Medicine
Boston, MA

Title: The Cellular Mechanism of Tau Dissemination
Non-Technical Title: A Novel Cellular Mechanism to Understand Spreading of Tau Aggregation in Alzheimer's Disease Brain
Duration: July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015

Mentor:
Tsuneya Ikezu, M.D., Ph.D.
Boston University School of Medicine

Summary: This proposal is designed to characterize the molecular mechanism of how tau protein is involved in forming the toxic neurofibrillary tangles in the affected brain regions of Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. Dr. Asai’s team will determine if this is mediated by transfer of aggregated tau protein from nerve cell-to-nerve cell or from nerve cell-to-glia (non-neuronal brain cells). In addition, there will be specific focus on the role of microglia, the brain resident immune cells (called phagocytes), in the transport of tau across different brain regions in the diseased brain. This study is critically relevant to understand the progression of these devastating diseases with the goal to discover a potential therapeutic target.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Research Fellowship
$100,000



Dr. Paul Axelsen

Paul H. Axelsen, M.D.

University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia , PA, United States

Title: Oxidative Lipid Degradation in Alzheimer's Disease
Non-Technical Title: Oxidative Stress in Alzheimer's Disease
Duration: July 1, 2011 - December 31, 2013

Summary: Oxidative stress will be examined in animal models of Alzheimer's disease using novel radiolabeled compounds that are designed to reveal how the proteins that accumulate in Alzheimer's disease are induced to form fibrils and plaques.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Standard
$250,000



Adam W. Bero, Ph.D.

Adam W. Bero, Ph.D.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA

Title: Epigenetic Mechanisms of Memory Dysfunction in AD
Non-Technical Title: A Molecules-to-Circuits Approach to Understanding the Causes of Memory Impairment in Alzheimer's Disease
Duration: July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015

Mentor:
Li-Huei Tsai, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary: Memory impairment is a clinical hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the molecular events that cause memory impairment in AD remain unclear. In this proposal, Dr. Bero will determine whether disease-related alterations in AD-affected brain prevent gene expression changes that are necessary for memory formation. Additionally, Dr. Bero will examine whether restoring the activity of neural circuits damaged by AD can restore gene activation and improve memory performance. These experiments will fundamentally advance the understanding of the causes of memory impairment in AD and potentially reveal novel strategies for AD treatment.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Research Fellowship
$100,000

Acknowledgements: This grant is made in memory of Nancie Elizabeth Baldwin Wade.



Dr. Narayan Bhat

Narayan Bhat, Ph.D.

Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC, United States

Title: Role of a Stress Kinase in AD Pathogenesis
Non-Technical Title: Defining the Role of a Signaling Pathway in Alzheimer's Disease
Duration: July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2014

Summary: The project investigates the role of a key cell signaling pathway commonly involved in cell stress and inflammatory responses i.e., p38 MAP kinase in multiple pathogenic processes of Alzheimer's disease (AD) including neuroinflammation, tau phosphorylation, amyloid deposition and synaptic dysfunction. The approach uses a genetic conditional knockout strategy to cell-specifically delete the kinase in microglia and forebrain neurons in a mouse model of AD. The outcome will provide mechanistic insight into AD-associated pathogenic processes and define the signaling pathway as a versatile treatment target for AD.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Standard
$399,873



Dr. Paramita Chakrabarty

Paramita  Chakrabarty, Ph.D.

University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

Title: Innate Immune System and Tauopathy
Non-Technical Title: How Inflammation in the Brain and Periphery Affects Brain Pathology in Common Dementias such as Alzheimer's Disease
Duration: July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2016

Co-PI(s):
Naruhiko Sahara, Ph.D.
University of Florida

Summary: One of the most important factors that underlie degeneration of neurons in an Alzheimer's disease patient brain is massive inflammation. Inflammation is a natural reaction of the body to toxins, bacteria, and foreign particles. Cytokines are the messengers during inflammation and carry information between different cells. In the first part of the grant, using novel molecular biology techniques, the team of Drs. Chakrabarty and Sahara will try to understand whether the levels of cytokines and other related proteins are altered during the progressive development of abnormal brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models. Further, using different classes of cytokines in the brains of these mice, the team will explore whether one class of cytokines ('inflammatory') drive the disease and kill neurons in the process, whereas the opposing kind ('anti-inflammatory' cytokines) improves the disease and are protective.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Standard
$249,840

Acknowledgements: This grant is made possible in part by a bequest from the Helen Veronica Coyne Trust.



Dr. Biju Chandu

Biju K. Chandu, Ph.D.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
San Antonio, TX, United States

Title: iPS-Derived Microglia-Based Gene Therapy for Alzheimer's
Non-Technical Title: A New Therapy Using Stem Cells to Halt or Reverse the Course of Alzheimer's Disease
Duration: July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2014

Co-PI(s):
Senlin Li, M.D. (Mentor)
University of Texas Health Science Center
Robert A. Clark, M.D. (Mentor)
University of Texas Health Science Center
Mentor:
Multiple mentors, listed above.

Summary: Extracting bone marrow cells requires surgery, which may be strenuous or impossible for older patients. To meet large-scale demand for bone marrow cells in clinical trials for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, we will generate bone marrow cells from blood, which we in turn will genetically modify to secrete drugs once these cells migrate to the brain. This new approach is expected to contribute to the development of an important therapy for Alzheimer's.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Research Fellowship
$100,000

Acknowledgements: This grant is made possible due to a generous bequest from the Estate of Frederick J. Pelda.



Dr. Jasmeer Chhatwal

Jasmeer P. Chhatwal, M.D., Ph.D.

Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA, United States

Title: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Network Degradation in Genetic and Sporadic AD
Non-Technical Title: Decay of Memory Networks in Alzheimer’s Disease
Duration: July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015

Mentor:
Reisa Sperling, M.D., M.M.Sc.
Massachusetts General Hospital / Brigham and Women’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School

Summary: The goal of this study is to better differentiate normal aging and early Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by using MRI and PET imaging to examine the health of neural networks that allow us to store and retrieve memories. In addition to providing us with a better fundamental understanding of how neurodegenerative diseases like AD affect the brain, these studies will refine the use of imaging techniques in clinical trials and thereby improve drug development in AD.

Dr. Chhatwal and his research colleagues are very fortunate to have access to a large amount of imaging data from young individuals with genetic mutations that inevitably lead to early-onset dementia (often at age 40-50) who are participating in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) study, an international consortium led by investigators at Washington University in St. Louis. These data will be compared with imaging data from a wide variety of individuals, including cognitively normal young and older adults, as well as older individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. With these unique and diverse datasets, and using novel analytic tools that were developed by Dr. Chhatwal and his colleagues, they can ask questions about how aging affects the brain and whether these changes are fundamentally different from those seen in AD.

This study makes use of four main types of imaging: (1) Functional connectivity MRI, to determine which parts of the brain are working together in networks; (2) Structural MRI, to very accurately measure the size of each fold and region of the brain; (3) Amyloid PET, to measure how much amyloid (the protein that clumps together to form plaques in brains of patients with AD) is in the brain; and (4) FDG PET, to see how much glucose (sugar) is used in each part of the brain. Together with information about memory performance by each of the subjects, these types of images provide a uniquely detailed picture of the brain’s health in normal and impaired subjects. By combining the information from these different types of imaging, Dr. Chhatwal and his colleagues will identify patterns of brain changes that indicate the earliest stages of AD, and use this information to determine the efficacy of experimental medications in Alzheimer’s prevention trials.

Dr. Chhatwal is very grateful for the participation of the many research subject volunteers, and for the support of those willing to provide funding for these exciting studies.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Research Fellowship
$100,000



Dr. Se Hoon Choi

Se Hoon Choi, Ph.D.

Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA

Title: ADAM10 Regulates Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis
Non-Technical Title: Investigating Whether ADAM10 Protein Modulates Birth of New Neurons in Adult Brain
Duration: July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015

Mentor:
Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D.
Massachusetts General Hospital

Summary: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies, and social life. New neurons are born in the adult brain (called “adult neurogenesis") and this process is impaired in AD, suggesting that impaired cognitive function in AD might, at least, in part, be due to impaired neurogenesis in the adult brain. ADAM10 is a protein that plays an important role in AD, as it prevents the generation of a toxic protein that causes AD. Dr. Choi’s team hypothesizes that ADAM10 also plays critical roles in adult neurogenesis, and they propose various animal and cell culture experiments to validate their hypothesis.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Research Fellowship
$100,000



Dr. John R. Cirrito

John R. Cirrito, Ph.D.

Washington University
St. Louis, MO, United States

Title: Endocytic Trafficking in Synaptic Amyloid-Beta Generation
Non-Technical Title: Endocytic Regulation of Synaptic Amyloid-Beta Generation in Alzheimer's Disease Models
Duration: July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2015

Co-PI(s):
Jin-Moo Lee, M.D., Ph.D.
Washington University

Summary: Amyloid-beta peptide aggregation and accumulation appears to be the initial step that sets off a cascade of factors that lead to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Two proteins, PICALM and Bin1, have recently been identified in genetic studies as risk factors for AD. Drs. John Cirrito, Jin-Moo Lee, and colleagues will determine the cellular mechanisms by which these proteins act and interact to mediate amyloid-beta generation in living mice.
More details

Program: Alzheimer's Disease
Award Type: Standard
$300,000



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Last Review: 08/30/13