As of 2016, we still don’t have a single approved drug to cure or even slow the progression of diseases caused by damage to the brain’s neurons. The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) and The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) are determined to change that. Today, they announce a $10 million investment to develop effective treatments for frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), a complex form of dementia that affects more than 50,000 people in the United States.
The Lauder Foundation, Leonard A. Lauder, President, and Ronald S. Lauder have jointly committed $5 million, which will be combined with $5 million from the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation to create The Treat FTD Fund. The fund, a joint program of AFTD and the ADDF, will accelerate clinical trials for FTD over the next decade. And it has the potential to advance treatments for other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, ALS and Parkinson’s.
Leonard A. Lauder, ADDF Board Co-Chairman, said: “My brother and co-chairman, Ronald S. Lauder, and I founded the ADDF to find treatments for Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia. Partnerships have always been an important part of that mission because they allow us to combine resources and to develop effective drugs faster.”
Donald Newhouse, President of Advance Publications, Inc., added: “My wife, Susan, suffered from primary progressive aphasia, a form of FTD. My brother, Si, suffers from the same dementia. Si’s wife, Victoria, and I and our families are committed to research to find treatments and a cure for FTD and Alzheimer’s. This partnership between the ADDF and AFTD is a significant step forward in carrying out our commitment.”
The partners are optimistic that this initiative will encourage more funders to invest in drug research for FTD and other devastating neurodegenerative diseases. Walter J. Koroshetz, MD, Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, remarked: “The challenge of developing effective treatments for persons with FTD calls for an ‘all hands on deck’ effort. Collaborations like this one will bring great scientists to work on FTD, and set a tone of hope for what NIH and the private sector can achieve together.”
The ADDF and AFTD plan to support new drugs in clinical trials, as well as “repurposed” drugs. Repurposing, in which drugs approved for one disease are used for others, is a growing area of research because it pares down the enormous costs and time of traditional drug development. The Treat FTD Fund will build on recent successes of both foundations in early-stage drug discovery and biomarker development that make clinical trials possible and increase their odds of success. A “Request for Proposals,” expected to be announced this summer, will be available at www.alzdiscovery.org and www.theaftd.org.