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NIH Funds New Alzheimer’s Research

$45 million in awards to test early treatments, explore new approaches (September 18)

Researchers will test promising drugs aimed at preventing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and will seek to identify and validate biologic targets for new therapies with approximately $45 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The new awards support the following clinical trials:

  • A 4-year international study will test three anti–amyloid-beta interventions — gantenerumab, solanezumab, and a third, as yet undetermined, drug — in volunteers with an inherited form of AD.
  • A 5-year prevention study proposes to test an anti-amyloid drug in cognitively normal older volunteers who are at increased risk of developing late-onset AD because they inherited two copies of the APOE4 allele — the best-known genetic risk for late-onset disease. The treatment has not yet been selected.
  • A 12-week clinical trial will evaluate the safety and tolerability of increasing doses of allopregnanolone, a natural brain steroid, in treating mild cognitive impairment and AD. The drug has been shown to promote the generation of new brain cells, to reduce amyloid levels, and to restore cognitive function in preclinical animal testing.

Studies focused on finding new therapeutic targets for AD will include the following:

  • Using cutting-edge computational methods, a 5-year study will seek to discover, characterize, and validate complex molecular networks and candidate genes that influence susceptibility to cognitive decline and AD.
  • Another 5-year study will apply analytical methods to large-scale molecular, cellular, and clinical data from AD patients to construct biological network models and to gain new insights into the complex mechanisms of the disease.
  • A third 5-year study will build on the genetic and pathologic evidence that the innate immune system, which provides immediate defense against infection, and brain inflammation have a significant role in AD. To identify and characterize new therapeutic targets within the innate immune system, the study will use a systems biology approach to analyze genomic, gene-expression, and pathologic data from AD patients and AD mouse models.

Source: NIH; September 18, 2013.

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