A Partnership with The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration
The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation's (ADDF) Diagnostics Accelerator initiative has announced a new $5 million commitment to projects targeting the development of biomarkers for frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), the most common dementia for people under 60. A new $2.5 million research investment from The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) is being matched by a $2.5 million allocation of the ADDF's Diagnostics Accelerator funds.
The Diagnostics Accelerator was launched in July 2018 through an initial funding commitment from philanthropists Bill Gates, ADDF co-founder Leonard Lauder, and others, including the Dolby family and the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, who share their commitment to combating the rising burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.
Over a three-year period, the collaborative initiative seeks to invest more than $35 million in the development of novel biomarkers for early, effective detection of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. In Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, biomarkers are most often tests of bodily fluids, including blood or cerebral spinal fluid, and neuroimaging scans such as PET and MRI.
"In order to develop treatments for dementia, we need to be able to diagnose it as early as possible and, just as important, determine specifically what type of dementia we're dealing with," said Howard Fillit, MD, ADDF Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer. "That requires biomarkers that are both sensitive and specific, and investing in FTD biomarkers will be an important way to advance the science for all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer's."
"We know today that addressing neurodegenerative disease in any form requires a collaborative effort," said AFTD CEO Susan L-J Dickinson. "AFTD has a long history of research partnership with the ADDF, and we are grateful to be joining forces again, in collaboration with Bill Gates and other generous funders."
Dickinson hopes that investment in FTD biomarkers will bring more than improvements to differential diagnosis for dementia. "Early and accurate diagnosis is the key to any research gains for those who suffer from dementia," she notes. "It's the key to effective participation in clinical trials, the development of therapeutics, and, down the road, a cure."
The Diagnostics Accelerator is a venture philanthropy vehicle, an innovative model that gives it the flexibility to back promising cutting-edge research that may not have a guaranteed immediate commercial return. It will strike a balance between taking more risks than traditional venture capital funds and being more focused on developing real products for the marketplace than basic research funded by governments or charitable organizations.
Founded in 2002, The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) is the leading U.S. nonprofit working to improve the lives of people with FTD, their care partners and loved ones. AFTD promotes and funds research toward diagnosis, treatment and a cure for FTD; stimulates greater public awareness; provides information and support to those directly impacted; fosters education for healthcare professionals; and advocates for appropriate, affordable services. AFTD's signature research efforts include the FTD Biomarkers Initiative, a multi-year effort to fund innovative approaches to the discovery and development of urgently needed FTD biomarkers. AFTD envisions a world with compassionate care, effective support and a future free of FTD.
FTD strikes adults most often in their 40s and 50s, when they are still working and may be raising a family. The condition impacts personality, behavior, language and/or movement. Most families face a very long journey to an accurate diagnosis: nearly 4 years on average. Today there are no disease-modifying treatments and there is no cure, but awareness is increasing and research efforts are gaining momentum.