Five New Research Grants Support Clinical and Early-Stage Programs

January 5, 2016

Category: New Grants

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) announces it has awarded five new grants to leading researchers in the U.S. and Europe. The researchers, working at both academic institutions and biotechnology firms, are pursuing diverse targets to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Howard Fillit, Chief Science Officer and Founding Executive Director of the ADDF, says: “These five projects clearly illustrate our funding strategy. They include a phase 2 clinical trial of a novel drug we have funded since its beginnings and early-stage work on a new way to treat chronic inflammation. We are committed to supporting innovative new ideas for Alzheimer’s and fast-tracking the development of those that show promise.”

These grants support one clinical and four preclinical programs.


Frank M. Longo, MD, PhD, PharmatrophiX
P75 Receptor Modulation for Alzheimer’s Disease: Phase 2a Trial
In preclinical testing, compounds targeting the p75 neurotrophin receptor significantly decreased degeneration of synapses and neurons and have also demonstrated the ability to reverse cognitive deficits. Investigators at PharmatrophiX plan to determine whether their drug targeting p75 can delay onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms if administered early or inhibit progression of degeneration, if administered in later stages (mild to moderate Alzheimer’s).


Grace Stutzmann, PhD, RFUMS/Chicago Medical School
Drug Development and Optimization of Compounds Stabilizing Ryanodine Calcium Channels for Alzheimer’s Disease
This program targets a calcium channel that becomes dysregulated early in Alzheimer’s disease and contributes to a host of Alzheimer’s-associated symptoms, such as memory loss. By restoring normal function of this channel, investigators believe that can reduce the aggregation of amyloid and tau, preserve normal synapses, and prevent memory impairments.

Jerri Rook, PhD, Vanderbilt Center of Neuroscience Drug Discovery
Preclinical Development of Novel M1 PAMs
Acetylcholine is essential for learning and memory and its activity is reduced in Alzheimer’s disease. Available drugs that enhance its activity provide modest improvements in cognitive function, but are limited by unwanted side effects. The Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery has recently discovered novel compounds that selectively activate muscarinic acetylcholine subtype 1 (M1) and enhance cognition in multiple preclinical studies, while avoiding undesirable side effects.

Danna Zimmer, PhD, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Humanization of a First-in-Class Anti-Inflammatory for Alzheimer's Disease Therapy
The program targets the chronic, non-resolving inflammation that is characteristic of all forms of Alzheimer’s disease. The investigators are working to identify a drug candidate suitable for clinical development that affects the detrimental "cytokine cycle". This cycle drives neuroinflammation and targeting it may delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Luca Ferraro, PharmD, University of Ferrara
Therapeutic Potential of Palmitoylethanolamide in a Transgenic Animal Model of Alzheimer's Disease
The general aim of the proposed study is to evaluate Palmithoylethanolamide (PEA) as a potential therapy for Alzheimer's disease. PEA has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective and may be able to prevent and/or slow the age-dependent progression of Alzheimer’s disease, such as neuroinflammation, synaptic dysfunction, and cognitive decline.