CHICAGO, DECEMBER 18, 2019 -- More than ever before, Alzheimer's researchers understand that a variety of approaches will be needed - most likely used in combination - for effective treatment of the disease.
With the recent influx of new funding - including more than $2 billion annually at the National Institute on Aging - researchers are expanding the exploration of new treatment avenues. At the same time, scientists are more extensively testing the potential benefits of drugs approved for other diseases for the treatment of dementia.
As an example, through newly-awarded grants from the Alzheimer's Association Part the Cloud Translational Research initiative, scientists are evaluating the use of existing HIV/AIDS, diabetes and organ transplant drugs as possible therapies for Alzheimer's dementia. Other research funded by the recent grants will investigate novel drugs that might alleviate, delay or slow the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's.
"To drive the field forward and create new therapies for people living with Alzheimer's and all dementia, the Alzheimer's Association believes it is important to fund innovative science that explores both new mechanisms and the repurposing of existing drugs," said Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer's Association chief science officer. "The Part the Cloud program is vital to advancing high-risk, high-reward research that might not otherwise be explored without this financial support."
Repurposing existing drugs for new uses can speed up the research process. Since scientists are building on previous research, much is already known about the drugs' potential side effects, it may take less time for the drugs to be tested, and the clinical trials may be less expensive. For many of the same reasons, repurposing can also speed review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The 2020 Part the Cloud: Translational Research Funding for Alzheimer's Disease grants provide essential support for early-phase clinical studies in people. Each researcher will receive up to $750,000 over two years. Part the Cloud awards are specifically designed to accelerate translation of findings from the laboratory, through trials, into possible therapies.
"No stone can be left unturned. We must advance all potential avenues of treatment, and explore methods for combining successful approaches," Carrillo said. "Alzheimer's and all dementia are complex, and their effective treatment and prevention will likely also be a complex but achievable task."
Research Evaluating Repurposing of Drugs
Steven Arnold, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
A Phase Ib/IIa study to evaluate whether Tacrolimus - a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug to prevent organ transplant rejection - can be repurposed as a potential therapy for Alzheimer's.
Paul Edison, M.B.B.S., F.R.C.P., Ph.D., Imperial College, London
Evaluating oral semaglutide as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease A Phase IIa clinical trial to evaluate a type 2 diabetes medication as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. Researchers believe that semaglutide, a drug that helps the body to maintain appropriate levels of sugar, may also support brain function by improving thinking and memory.
John Sedivy, Ph.D., Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Stephen Salloway, M.D., Brown University and Butler Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island
Repurposing Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors for Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease A Phase I clinical trial to evaluate whether an HIV/AIDS medication might be repurposed to reduce brain inflammation in individuals with Alzheimer's and other brain diseases.
Research Evaluating New Mechanisms
James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
A Phase IIa clinical trial to determine if a novel drug targeting the removal of certain aging brain cells in regions impacting cognition, language and memory can benefit people with age-related brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Maurice Zauderer, Ph.D., Vaccinex, Inc., Rochester, New York
SEMA4D Blockade Safety and Brain Metabolic Activity in Alzheimer's Disease A Phase I clinical trial to evaluate a new experimental drug that may reduce inflammation in the brain.
The Part the Cloud global research grant program led by visionary philanthropist Mikey Hoag recently announced a $10 million award of support from Bill Gates. The Gates' award will stimulate an additional $20 million in funding by the Alzheimer's Association, through Part the Cloud, doubling the program's total clinical research investments to $60 million in just one year.
Part the Cloud is part of the Alzheimer's Association robust research platform, the largest nonprofit research program focused on Alzheimer's and dementia globally. Currently, the Association is investing $167 million in more than 500 active best-of-field projects in 27 countries.
About the Alzheimer's Association®
The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's®. Visit http://www.alz.org or call 800.272.3900.