New Grants for Innovative Alzheimer’s Disease Research Announced by AHAF
CLARKSBURG, Md., July 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF, at http://www.ahaf.org), a nonprofit organization that funds groundbreaking, early-stage research on Alzheimer’s disease, today announced it has awarded 22 new research grants, totaling more than $3.6 million, to scientists on the cutting edge of discoveries.
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disorder that destroys brain function and eventually leads to death. Currently, more than five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to soar with the aging Baby Boomer generation. Every 68 seconds, another American is diagnosed with the disease.
“Only through research can we find ways to prevent or treat this terrible disease that threatens to harm our loved ones and bankrupt our families and our health care system,” said AHAF President and CEO Stacy Pagos Haller. “That’s why AHAF is committed to supporting bold ideas and investing in the most compelling and game-changing research.”
One newly funded project will carefully scrutinize a major Alzheimer’s disease discovery announced in 2012 – also AHAF-funded – that damaging “tau” proteins spread cell-to-cell in the brain. Findings could bring medical science closer to understanding the phases of, and thus treating, Alzheimer’s disease.
Other grant recipients will be studying existing FDA-approved diabetes and cancer drugs for their potential in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Research on such “repurposed” drugs could speed the process of getting treatments from the lab bench to clinical practice.
Other topics in the 22 funded studies, all listed at http://www.ahaf.org/2012AlzAwards, include early diagnosis, drug targets, and drug discoveries. Some highlights include:
Can a Diabetes Drug Fight Alzheimer’s Disease as Well?
Steven E. Arnold, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, will conduct a Phase II clinical trial to determine if a common anti-diabetes drug – glucophage (brand name Metformin) – has potential for treating or preventing Alzheimer’s disease. The medication could make cells in the Alzheimer’s disease brain more sensitive to insulin – and thus healthier.
Testing a Natural Substance’s Effect on the Nervous System
The role of the common nutritional supplement glutamine as a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s disease is the subject of research by Rutgers University scientist Karl Herrup, Ph.D. Glutamine is essential to the communication among nerve cells as well as other workings of the body. Herrup will examine whether providing extra glutamine to mice would protect nerve cells.
Charting the Transfer of Harmful Tau Protein
Alzheimer’s research made news in February when two independent teams of scientists, one of them AHAF-funded, announced a discovery on how misshapen tau proteins proliferate in the brain. The teams’ finding, that the proteins spread cell-to-cell, now allows scientists to focus on ways to target and stop this spread. Jessica Wu, Ph.D., of Columbia University, has developed an ingenious way to test the tau protein’s potential ability to transfer to and damage neighboring cells, by using microscopic chambers that allow growth and testing of isolated pairs of neurons.
With today’s announced grants, AHAF is now funding 54 Alzheimer’s disease research projects worldwide, along with 62 other research projects on degenerative eye diseases. These include 21 new grants on glaucoma and macular degeneration research, to be announced by AHAF later this month. For information on AHAF-funded research, visit http://www.ahaf.org/research/grants.
About the American Health Assistance Foundation
The American Health Assistance Foundation (http://www.ahaf.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for age-related degenerative diseases by funding research worldwide and providing public information under its three program areas: Alzheimer’s Disease Research, Macular Degeneration Research, and National Glaucoma Research.
Alice L. Kirkman, Marketing and Communications Manager
American Health Assistance Foundation
Phone: (301) 556-9349; Email: email@example.com
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SOURCE American Health Assistance Foundation