CurePSP is a Maryland-based nonprofit organization that focuses on neurodegenerative diseases that strike when people are in their 50s to 70s, including Alzheimer’s disease. PSP stands for progressive supranuclear palsy, which is a neurodegenerative disorder that impacts movement, walking, speech, balance, mood, vision, behavior, and cognition. Like Alzheimer’s, PSP is characterized by deposits of the tau protein in the brain, which may contribute to neuronal cell death.
Although the emphasis of the organization started with PSP, efforts expanded to other diseases characterized by tau, such as Alzheimer’s. One example includes CurePSP support of an Alzheimer’s disease medication known as TPI-287, which targets brain tau and is currently in a Phase 1 clinical trial in humans. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, are currently recruiting patients for the study, which includes people ages 50 to 82 with probable Alzheimer’s disease.
Adam Boxer, M.D., Ph.D., heads up the research efforts. According to UCSF’s website, “The purpose of this study is to determine the dose of TPI-287 that is safe and tolerable in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s, as well as to measure the properties and preliminary efficacy of TPI-287.” As a Phase 1 study, it is the first step for understanding how the drug may work in humans.
The one-year study involves brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), spinal fluid assessment, as well as neurological, physical and cognitive testing. People who are interested in participating can find the contact information by following this link.
CurePSP has several other initiatives, including maintaining a brain bank, a genetics program, and a patient engagement program. The organization also supports efforts to improve imaging of brain tau in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. Improved tau imaging could aid in the diagnosis and prognosis of neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
To help combat tau-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, CurePSP also collaborates with a group of 15 researchers known as the tau consortium. The clinical and basic researchers work together, sharing research findings and their expertise to understand how changes in the tau gene and protein contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.
Overall, the multiple initiatives and collaborations advanced by CurePSP seek to promote “awareness, education, care, and cure for devastating Prime of Life neurodegenerative diseases,” according to CurePSP’s mission statement.
According to Dr. Alex Klein of CurePSP, “Understanding the causes of and finding treatments for neurodegenerative diseases – from PSP to Alzheimer’s disease to Parkinson’s disease – is one of the great health care imperatives of the 21st century, and CurePSP is fiercely dedicated to achieving this mission. While many of these terrible diseases involve the misfolding of the tau protein into ‘tangles’ – only a few, including PSP, involve only this protein, making it an ideal research target.”