BrightFocus’ Role in a New Approach to Fighting Alzheimer’s

Martha Snyder Taggart, BrightFocus Editor, Science Communications
  • Science News
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In this week’s Time magazine cover story on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s (Feb 22-29), the authors note that “a one-track strategy can also be limiting."

At BrightFocus, we couldn’t agree more.  That is why BrightFocus-funded research around the world contributes to a varied drug approach aimed at fighting the disease. The "cocktail" approach – tailoring multiple drugs into a treatment regimen that corresponds to an individual's symptoms, genetic make-up, and history with the disease – has been highly successful in treating diseases such as AIDS and cancer. 

This “cocktail” approach that BrightFocus helps drive includes efforts to stop neuronal deterioration with “trophic” (eg, growth) factors that promote neuronal health and vitality, and to address “brain diabetes” – the brain’s increasingly inefficient glucose metabolism in old age, which mimics that in the body – with squirts of insulin and existing drugs that promote glucose uptake.  We also invest in developing other interventions that might work in concert with pharmaceuticals to better the lives of people with Alzheimer’s.

The earliest of these new types of drugs have reached the point of early-stage clinical trials in humans. Conceivably more than one of these new agents, if successful, could be combined with anti-amyloid and anti-tau approaches in a “cocktail” manner to try and stop the disease in its earliest stages.

The Time article quotes extensively from William Jagust, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley.  He is currently involved in BrightFocus-funded research aimed at assessing tau’s role with better imaging to track its timing, spread, and the resulting damage to neural networks. 

In addition, BrightFocus has funded numerous basic science research projects that have contributed to the development of new drugs in all the areas covered in the Time article. The list of projects and researchers is too lengthy to list here, but described in depth on our website. (To see our current projects, go and specify “active” awards.)

Stay tuned for more updates from our Alzheimer’s Disease Research program as we continue to move closer to a cure.