Alzheimer’s Matters, the official blog of the ADDF, features insights, perspectives and commentary on current topics of interest in Alzheimer’s disease and related drug discovery.
This year, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation so many reasons to be thankful. Your support has enabled us to make tremendous progress in our search for an effective treatment, and a cure, for Alzheimer’s disease.
Four years ago, I received the shock of a lifetime: my wife of 22 years, B. Smith, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There were signs leading up to B.’s diagnosis—signs we desperately tried to ignore. Always an effortless chef, B. had begun taking a little longer to put our meals together. Ever punctual, B. was beginning to have trouble getting out the door on time.
The wire is buzzing with news that scientists have successfully modeled some of the key features of Alzheimer’s disease in a dish. The new technology, developed by a team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) led by Rudolph E. Tanzi, may offer a more accurate, efficient and inexpensive way to screen prospective drugs for Alzheimer’s while also advancing our ability to understand the biological processes that lead to the disease.
We’d like to send our congratulations to John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser, recipients of The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2014 for their discoveries of “place cells” and “grid cells” in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex of the brain. These GPS cells help humans to create a map of our surroundings, allowing us to navigate both new and familiar environments, and provide a space and time context in which new memories can be formed. How do findings like these advance the discovery and development of new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease? They help physicians and scientists to better understand how the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex work—areas of the brain that are critical to memory and learning and the first to be attacked by Alzheimer’s disease.
How do we decide what to fund? We rely on the expertise of our team of PhD scientists, led by Howard Fillit, MD, to identify the research most likely to lead to an effective treatment, and a cure, for Alzheimer’s disease. We spoke to Rachel Lane, PhD, a key member of the team, to find out how she came to work in the field, what drives her passion for Alzheimer’s research, and why she’s running for Alzheimer’s research in the TCS New York City Marathon.
My brother, Ronald, and I co-founded the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) with one objective: to conquer this disease in our lifetimes. That’s why we focus on drug discovery and development. And in the last 10 years, the ADDF has made incredible progress, funding 450 unique drug discovery programs led by the best and brightest scientists in the world.
If you’re a regular reader of the New York Times, you may have a seen a recent article asking “Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?” It’s a provocative question, inspired by the writer’s recent introduction to a collection of research showing an association between lithium exposure and “beneficial clinical, behavioral, legal and medical outcomes” including some evidence that the naturally occurring element is neuroprotective.
Every year, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) brings leaders in academia and industry together for the only conference in the world exclusively focused on drug discovery and development for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Researchers at this year’s conference showcased an unbelievable array of promising research—research that was indicative of the ADDF’s dynamic, diverse portfolio and a reflection of just how far we’ve come in our search for an effective treatment, and a cure, for Alzheimer’s disease.
Last week, The New York Times reported on new research revealing that a man without the APOE gene—a gene that helps to carry cholesterol and, in certain forms, dramatically increases a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease—was able to function normally. The news has important implications for Alzheimer’s research, suggesting that if scientists could develop therapies that inhibit the potentially toxic effects of APOE, patients could take the drug without fear of neurological complications.
By 2050, more than 1.5 billion people worldwide will be over the age of 65—triple the number of present-day seniors. And while the US ranks high on the aging populations’ scorecard, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Italy top the list. By midcentury, a third of their populations will be over 65.