Five New Grants Support Drug Discovery and Prevention

February 25, 2016

Category: New Grants

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) has awarded five new grants to leading researchers in the U.S. and Middle East. The scientists, based at academic institutions and governmental agencies, are pursuing drug programs, prevention studies, and research to accelerate clinical trials.

Dr. Howard Fillit, Chief Science Officer and Founding Executive Director of the ADDF, says: “These grants demonstrate the range and impact of our work. We are investing in a promising phase 2 clinical trial of a repurposed drug that, if successful, could get to patients in just a few years. Another award will advance all clinical trials through the creation of a large registry of volunteers. And we are supporting a novel preclinical drug program based on a very recent discovery about the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s. The final two grants are the first funded through a brand-new prevention initiative. Their findings may help doctors reduce people’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”


Ihab Hajjar, MD, MS, Emory University
Effect of Candesartan on Prodromal Alzheimer's Disease and Its Related Biomarkers
Changes in blood vessels contribute to Alzheimer's disease onset and progression. Dr. Hajjar and his team have shown in preclinical studies that candesartan, a blood pressure medication, has a positive effect on Alzheimer-related changes in the brain. In an upcoming Phase 2 clinical trial, the team will test if candesartan can decrease brain changes as well as cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s in human patients.


Paul Thompson, PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School & Padlock Therapeutics
Inhibiting Neutrophil Extracellular Trap (NET) Formation as a Novel Therapeutic Approach to Alzheimer’s
Chronic inflammation is one of the major hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. In a major recent discovery, one type of chronic systemic inflammation—neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation—was shown to occur in Alzheimer’s patients. In NET formation, blood cells called neurotrophils migrate into the brain blood vessels and explode, releasing their own DNA and triggering collateral tissue damage. The investigators have developed candidate drugs called PAD inhibitors that block NET formation and plan to conduct preclinical testing.


The following grants are the first funded through the Cohorts for Alzheimer’s Prevention Action (CAPA) Consortium, which was created by the ADDF to improve access to existing high-quality data and evaluate potential strategies to prevent dementia.

Lenore Launer, PhD, National Institute on Aging
Targeting Older Adults for Blood Pressure Interventions
Can a patient’s risk of dementia be reduced by treating their hypertension with one drug instead of another? There are five major classes of anti-hypertensive medications, and some appear to protect the brain in ways that go beyond blood pressure. A number of these drugs are being tested in clinical trials as repurposed drugs to treat dementia (including the candesartan trial at Emory mentioned above), but they may be even more protective if taken earlier in life. This study will combine data from eight different high-quality cohorts to effectively evaluate whether patients treated with one anti-hypertensive treatment strategy instead of another have different rates of cognitive impairment and dementia.

Galit Weinstein, PhD, University of Haifa
Diabetes and Dementia: Identifying the Optimal Glycemic Control Patterns and Treatment Options to Prevent Alzheimer’s
People with type 2 diabetes are more prone to developing cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Treatments for diabetes reduce many complications, but it remains unclear whether they can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. In this study, the investigator will examine data from six previous large studies to determine whether impaired glucose metabolism helps predict an individual's risk for Alzheimer’s and which classes of diabetes drugs might prevent it. Based on the findings, clinicians will be able to better assess their patients' risk for Alzheimer’s and consider diabetes treatment options based on their potential to prevent Alzheimer’s.


Michael Weiner, MD, University of California, San Francisco
Brain Health Registry Trial-Ready Cohort
Identifying and screening subjects for Alzheimer's clinical trials is time-consuming and expensive, and slows the progress of potentially life-saving research. The Brain Health Registry is designed to address these challenges by recruiting a large number of potential patients and collecting data (from questionnaires and the cognition exams) at regular intervals, resulting in trial-ready cohorts. If successful, the Registry will lead to significant reductions in the time and cost associated with clinical trials, including the very early stage trials necessary to accelerate the development of potential Alzheimer's therapies. This grant supports the development of an investigators’ portal.