Three New Grants Keep Promising Programs Forging Ahead

November 14, 2017

Category: New Grants

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) announces three new investments, all of which are for programs that the ADDF previously funded. Two of the awards support novel drugs designed to reduce brain inflammation and the third is for the development of a screening tool to detect early Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Howard Fillit, Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer of the ADDF, says: “Our goal is to continue funding successful programs, and we are pleased that these researchers are forging ahead with promising novel drugs and a potential new blood test for Alzheimer’s.” 


D. Martin Watterson, PhD, NeuroKine Therapeutics, LLC
Catalyzing p38aMAPKI Drug Candidate, MW150, into the Clinic
Inflammation in the brain can damage neurons and accelerate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. And kinases, which are enzymes that perform a range of critical functions in our bodies, are involved in brain inflammation. With funding from the ADDF that began in 2001, Dr. Watterson worked to discover a molecule that would target inflammation in the brain and slow Alzheimer’s disease. He ultimately developed MW150, a drug that inhibits specific kinases and reduces brain inflammation. Now, he and his team, including Dr. Arancio at Columbia University, will complete the final set of studies necessary to compile and submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the FDA for approval to begin human clinical trials. The goal is to initiate a phase 1 trial as soon as approved. 

Alexandros Makriyannis, PhD, Northeastern University
FAAH Inhibitors as Alzheimer's Disease Medications
Cannabinoid receptors in the brain are involved in immune response and inflammation. With ADDF funding in 2015, Dr. Makriyannis and his team began developing novel Alzheimer’s drugs that indirectly target the cannabinoid receptors. He aims to activate the CB1 cannabinoid receptor by inhibiting an enzyme called Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH). In this proposal, Dr. Makriyannis and team will design novel FAAH inhibitors that prevent damage to neurons and synapses induced by Alzheimer’s disease. If successful, this work will bring these promising drug candidates closer to human clinical testing.


Blaine Roberts, PhD, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
Plasma Abeta Protein Complexes for the Early Detection of Brain Amyloid Accumulation
Alzheimer’s remains a difficult disease to accurately diagnose, because there are few tests available. Dr. Roberts is developing a screening tool for the early detection of Alzheimer’s, before symptoms emerge. With previous ADDF funding, Dr. Roberts and his colleagues discovered protein complexes in the blood that have the potential to provide an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The new ADDF funding will help Dr. Roberts’s group to optimize two different methods that can more quickly and sensitively measure these protein complexes. They will use samples from the Australian Imaging and Biomarker Lifestyle (AIBL) study of aging, one of the largest studies of Alzheimer’s disease in the world, to validate their new analytical methods. The goal is to create an affordable blood test to detect Alzheimer’s in its early stages.