Innovative Alzheimer’s Research Receives $1.1 million in Colorado Funding

Seven innovative Alzheimer’s disease research proposals from promising young researchers will now proceed thanks to $1.1 million in grants from the Alzheimer’s Association, Colorado Chapter.

The Early Career Investigator Grants research proposals are focused on three key areas of Alzheimer’s investigation:

  • Risk of developing the disease
  • Effective diagnosis
  • Therapies for treatment

“This is a very significant undertaking by the board of directors of the Colorado Chapter to commit more than $1 million to these very promising research projects,” said Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D., senior director of Medical and Scientific Operations for the Alzheimer’s Association. “Efforts like this support the Association’s commitment to research and help us extend funding to more qualified scientists and proposals.”

Snyder estimates that only one of every seven grant proposals submitted to the Association receives funding, so it is important that Alzheimer’s Association supporters – both individuals and corporate sponsors – step forward to help fund promising research opportunities.

The proposals approved by the board of the Colorado Chapter all come from Alzheimer’s researchers who are earlier in their careers and who are less likely to receive funding from the National Institutes of Health, which administers U.S. Government funding for research.

“We have a dual commitment,” said Donald Bechter, chair of the Colorado Chapter board. “While part of our focus is on providing information, programs and services to the 71,000 Coloradans living with Alzheimer’s, as well as their quarter of a million volunteer caregivers, we must continue searching for a cure to this horrible disease for the sake of future generations.”

Local donations funding international research

Bechter noted that the seven research grants – spanning four continents – are made possible through the generous donations of individual Coloradans as well as corporate sponsors. This is the Colorado Chapter’s largest financial commitment to research to date and among the largest single research commitments by any Alzheimer’s Association chapter, although Bechter noted there are plans to expand the initiative.

“We know there are other promising, innovative ideas that remain unfunded,” Bechter said. “Our goal is to fund as many of these exciting proposals as we can until a cure is found.”

The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s research in the world, ranking behind only the governments of the United States and China in the total impact of research funding. Since 1982, the Alzheimer’s Association has funded more than 2,700 scientific investigations with $410 million. More than 400 of these research projects are currently active in 19 countries totaling more than $110 million.

Research details

Each of the Early Career Investigator Grants research projects funded by the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association are for between $150,000 and $175,000 over three years. The approved projects are:

  • “Characterization of Tau Astrogliopathy on Aging and Neurodegeneration” by Dr. Roberta Rodriguez of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. The project will focus on how age-related tau protein builds up, links with accumulation of a known immune cell (astrocyte) and increases an individual’s risk of cognitive decline.
  • “PET Imaging of Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Tauopathy” by Dr. Anna Barron of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. The project will examine a new tool to visualize early biological changes in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • “Noninvasive Biomarker of CSF Production” by Dr. Li Zhao of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The project will explore whether a noninvasive test can be used to investigate – or predict – if individuals with Alzheimer’s have lower CSF production than cognitively unimpaired individuals.
  • “Capillary Dysfunction in Alzheimer’s Disease: Pathophysiology and Treatment” by Dr. Eugenio Gutierrez Jimenez of University of Aarhus in Denmark. The project will attempt to determine if capillary dysfunction that results in low oxygen level in the brain is a characteristic of Alzheimer’s and, if so, can it be treated by an FDA-approved drug.
  • “Targeting Dopamine Neuronal Loss in a Model of Alzheimer’s Disease” by Dr. Marcello D’Amelio of the University of Rome. The project will test whether a cancer drug can block or slow down the degeneration of specific brain cell types.
  • “Drug Development of Pro-resolving ALZ/FPR2 Agonists for Alzheimer’s Disease” by Dr. Enza Lacivita of the University of Bari in Italy. The project will explore whether a new potential drug could resolve the associated inflammatory process and lead to increased clearance of beta-amyloid in persons with Alzheimer’s.
  • “Relationships Between Multiple Sensory Impairments and Cognitive Decline” by Dr. Willa Brenowitz at University of California/San Francisco. The project will examine the relationships between multiple sensory impairments and cognitive decline in older adults.

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