Text Size Normal Text Sizing Button Medium Text Sizing Button Large Text Sizing Button Text Contrast Normal Contrast Button Reverse Contrast Button Switch to Spanish Language Press Room Contact Us Sitemap Sign In Register
Link to Homepage About BrightFocus
Donate Now Get Involved  
Alzheimer's Disease Research Macular Degeneration Research National Glaucoma Research

Sign up for Email Notifications
If you would like to be notified when funding or meeting opportunities are announced please click on the link below.

Sign up for new announcements.

Please add ResearchGrants@BrightFocus.org to your institution’s white list to insure that the notification is not blocked by your organization’s SPAM filters.

This email list is not sold or distributed, and serves only as an annual reminder of the availability of research support through the BrightFocus Foundation (www.brightfocus.org). Please follow instructions on the notification emails for removal requests.

BrightFocus Research Grants Funding
Grant Funding for Alzheimer's Research
Grant Funding for Macular Degeneration Research
Grant Funding for Glaucoma Research


Alzheimer's Disease Research
Current Award

Dr. Yona Levites

Yona Levites, PhD

University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

Title: Tau, Aβ and Network Degeneration in Alzheimer’s Disease
Non-Technical Title: Targeting Tau with Immunotherapy in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease: A Comparison of Approaches

Acknowledgements: This grant is made possible by a bequest from the estate of Virginia Eberwein.
Duration: July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2017
Award Type: Standard
Award Amount: $248,009


Tau protein is known to go through abnormal changes that cause it to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients for yet unclear reasons. Immunotherapy using recombinant molecules (ie, molecules formed in the laboratory through genetic recombination) has emerged as a promising approach to target tau accumulation; however, many questions persist about the optimal form of anti-tau immunotherapy. We propose to compare the ability of genetically engineered antibodies targeted to the intracellular or extracellular levels to fight tau pathology in two mouse models.

Our results will provide critical insights into which method is more effective (ie, extracellular vs. intracellular) and whether the full-length antibody and not just its binding fragment is required.


Tau protein is known to go through phosphorylation and to accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients where, in this altered form, it contributes to neuronal dysfunction and death. Phosphorylation turns many protein enzymes on and off, thereby altering their function and activity, and this plays a significant role in a wide range of cellular processes. Anti-tau immunotherapy has emerged as a promising approach to target this pathological conversion, but many questions regarding the optimal form of anti-tau immunotherapy remain open.

In our search for potential modifiers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in mouse models, we have developed a “somatic brain transgenics” paradigm, consisting of genes packaged into adeno-associated viral vectors and delivered to the brains of newborn mice by injection.

We propose to compare the ability of recombinant intracellular and extracellular antibodies to attenuate tau pathology in two mouse models.

Results from these studies will provide critical insights into a) whether targeting tau in the extracellular vs. intracellular compartment is more efficacious and, b) whether full length antibody and not just its binding fragment antibody effector functions are required.

Investigator Biography:

Yona Levites received her PhD under the supervision of Professor Moussa Youdim from the Technion, Israel, in whose laboratory she worked. Her graduate work concentrated on effects of green tea on prevention of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. She completed her postdoctoral training at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, (WHERE), where she worked on developing immunotherapy strategies for Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Levites is an assistant professor at the University of Florida Center for Translational Research and Neurodegenerative Disorders.