Alzheimer's Disease Research Review: Spring 2018

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  • Alzheimer's Disease Research Review: Spring 2018
    Alzheimer's Disease Research Review: Spring 2018
    Alzheimer’s Disease Research Provided Early Support for Groundbreaking Project

  • President’s Corner

  • Researcher Spotlight: Kathryn Bowles, PhD

  • Clinical Trial Volunteers Key for Curing Alzheimer’s

  • ADR-Sponsored Event Spotlights Aging at Home

  • Healthy Recipe: Italian-Style Cube Steaks for Two

  • Informing Your Loved One About Their Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Alzheimer’s Disease Research Provided Early Support For Groundbreaking Project

Major Advance in Drug Development Started with Centennial Award

Ten years ago, Alzheimer’s Disease Research (ADR) gave a special Centennial Award to Donald Weaver, MD, PhD, currently Director of the University of Toronto’s Krembil Research Institute, to develop a screening platform and find new drug options in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. The Centennial Award competition marked the 100 years since Dr. Alois Alzheimer described the disease and was made possible by forward-thinking Alzheimer’s Disease Research supporters. When Dr. Weaver’s groundbreaking work recently reached a major milestone, he quickly acknowledged the pivotal role that early financial support played,
“Alzheimer’s Disease Research had the wisdom and foresight to understand that this project could lead to a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s. It is a foundation that has the guts to fund a high-risk, innovative idea.”

In a decade-long effort, Dr. Weaver and colleagues have created a screening platform and, after an initial drug candidate failed to be suitable for use in people, have gone on to develop and screen 2,000 additional drug options. In January, a new commercial partnership was announced that will allow Dr. Weaver and his colleagues to further fine-tune the search, validate the most promising drug candidates, and then move into Phase I clinical trials.

Significantly, ADR funded Dr. Weaver to pursue a “small-molecule” drug that would target a process known as “protein misfolding” that leads to toxic changes involved in Alzheimer’s disease. Should one of the 2,000 spinoff drug options become clinically viable, this pioneering and disease-modifying agent would be the first small-molecule oral drug to target protein misfolding across the blood-brain barrier. Dr. Weaver’s pioneering science is the kind of bold and innovative early-stage research that differentiates Alzheimer’s Disease Research funding.

“This is an exciting and hopeful development, a potential game-changer that could revolutionize efforts to treat Alzheimer’s. We are honored that our Alzheimer’s Disease Research program was the crucial funder of Dr. Weaver’s groundbreaking research that is expected to lead to clinical trials,” said BrightFocus President Stacy Pagos Haller.

President’s Corner

As we learn more about the exciting discoveries of Dr. Weaver and colleagues, we feel a deep sense of gratitude to our donors. Your generosity makes funding possible for the most innovative and revolutionary science.

Researchers are genuinely grateful to receive Alzheimer’s Disease Research grants because, like so many of us, they often have a personal connection to someone with this terrible disease. They are leading the way and motivated not only to find answers, but to find them in time to help the people they love, too.

With every issue of Alzheimer’s Disease Research Review, I hope you’ll gain a better understanding of the progress being made in laboratories around the world and learn practical tips for coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

With more than 5 million individuals already suffering from Alzheimer’s in this country and millions more expected to be diagnosed by 2050, it’s the action we take now that makes a difference.

Thank you for being our partner in the fight to end Alzheimer’s!

Stacy Pagos Haller

Researcher Spotlight: Kathryn Bowles, PhD

Discovering Factors that Cause Tau to Change Kathryn Bowles, PhD, of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, knows all too well the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s. One grandmother passed away from complications of the disease and another developed signs of dementia as Bowles was deciding her career path. Today, as an Alzheimer’s Disease Research grantee, Bowles is working to identify and characterize which genes are responsible for regulating tau splicing so that we may better understand how those protein imbalances occur and how they could be prevented.

There are different versions of tau protein in the human brain, and it is thought that an imbalance of the different versions result in their abnormal misfolding, accumulation, and subsequent development of Alzheimer’s disease or other ‘tauopathies.’ Bowles aims to discover what genes are responsible for regulating the different versions of tau so that we may better understand how and why an imbalance occurs, and what we can do to fix it.

Clinical Trial Volunteers Key for Curing Alzheimer’s

According to a Georgetown University scientist working on an Alzheimer’s Disease Research-supported study, volunteers working with researchers are a key part of efforts to defeat Alzheimer’s.

The project, which aims to develop a tool to diagnose Alzheimer’s before symptoms begin to show, illustrates the important role clinical trial participants can play in helping scientists stop the disease. Says one of its leaders, R. Scott Turner, MD, PhD, “Progress is dependent upon volunteers partnering with us in clinical research.”

The study’s director, Xiong Jiang, PhD, hopes to enroll up to 90 volunteers, with the goal of being able to “identify changes in the critical period before symptoms can be detected in behavioral testing. By the time you see symptoms there are already significant damages in the brain and it might be too late to initiate effective treatments.”

Many Alzheimer’s clinical trials are delayed or even cancelled because of difficulties recruiting volunteers. This poses a great challenge to efforts to develop new therapeutics and, in the case of the Georgetown study, improved technologies. Volunteers as young as 55 are now being sought because of research showing the disease developing earlier than previously thought.

This series of articles promoting awareness of clinical trials is supported in part by an educational sponsorship from Biogen. BrightFocus is solely responsible for the content of this article.

To learn more about how you may be able to participate in clinical research, please obtain the free BrightFocus publication, “Clinical Trials: Your Questions Answered” by calling 1-855-345-6237. This guide includes information on the important role of volunteers in science, as well as key questions to ask your doctor. You can also search for research projects in your area that are seeking volunteers by visiting

ADR-Sponsored Event Spotlights Aging At Home

Panel Unveils Recommendations for Home-Based Dementia Care

A panel of leading researchers and policy experts, sponsored by BrightFocus Foundation’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research (ADR) program, played an integral role in the first-ever National Institutes of Health research summit on dementia care. Their five key recommendations have been shared with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and are intended to help public and private sector leaders better support people with dementia living in their own homes.

The panel’s core recommendations for home-based dementia care (HBDC) include:

  1. HBDC should be considered the nexus of new long-term care dementia models, from diagnosis to end of life.
  2. New financial assistance models are needed to stimulate, reward, and support home care practices.
  3. A skilled new workforce spanning long-term care needs to be developed and equipped.
  4. New technologies to promote communications and monitor safety must be tested, integrated, and deployed.
  5. Emerging information and recommendations need to be shared effectively with health professionals and those affected by Alzheimer’s as quickly as possible.

Said Stacy Pagos Haller, BrightFocus President, “We want the rigor of science to be a catalyst in solving challenging problems such as Alzheimer’s. While we fight to end this disease, our ADR program brought together many of the foremost experts to identify best practices, missed opportunities, and knowledge gaps to better help people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia remain in their communities.” The panel noted that the vast majority of people with dementia prefer to remain in their own home, and that home-based dementia care can be less costly to families and taxpayers than care provided through nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

Healthy Recipe:

Italian-Style Cube Steaks for Two

Packed with Italian flavor, this dinner is ready in no time and cleanup is a breeze!


  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 small zucchinis, sliced
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 beef cube steaks (4 ounces each)
  • 2 teaspoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • In a small bowl, combine the basil, garlic powder, and pepper, set aside.
  • In a large skillet, sauté the zucchini, tomatoes, onion, and 1 teaspoon of spice mixture in 1/2 teaspoon olive oil until zucchini is crisp-tender. Remove and keep warm.
  • Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over cube steaks. In the same skillet, cook steaks in remaining oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Remove from skillet and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve with vegetables.

Yield: 2 servings

Informing Your Loved One About Their Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

There may be occasions when someone with Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, may be at a stage of the disease that leaves them too forgetful to  retain or understand their diagnosis. But, if your loved one is capable of understanding, sharing their diagnosis with them can be made easier.

Consider including your loved one’s physician so they can explain the diagnosis and options available for medical management. Tailor your explanation to your loved one’s level of understanding by choosing appropriate terminology. You may want to use alternative labels, such as “memory problems” instead of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Stay positive and reassure your loved one that you are going to do everything you can to support them through this illness.

Finally, become an informed caregiver and utilize information available on our website at

Please share this newsletter with someone you know who might be interested in learning about some of the latest advancements in research to diagnose, prevent, treat, and cure Alzheimer’s disease. This newsletter is published by Alzheimer’s Disease Research, a program of BrightFocus Foundation.

The information in Alzheimer’s Disease Research Review is provided as a public service and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified health care professional, nor is it intended to constitute medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. Copies of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Review are available upon request.

Alzheimer’s Disease Research is a BrightFocus Foundation Program

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