To help accelerate the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Association’s Part the Cloud research grant program is investing $24 million in clinical trials investigating 16 potential therapies.
Scientists from around the world will use the funds to conduct Phase 1 and 2 trials testing a variety of experimental medications and devices.
The studies involve prospective treatments that focus on how brain cells use energy and fuel, and how they extract waste and debris from the brain. They also explore how blood supply in the brain is maintained.
“We must leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding treatments for Alzheimer’s and all other dementia, and Part the Cloud is designed to explore every feasible option in order to drive research forward to get potential treatment options to people living with Alzheimer’s faster,” Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, the Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer, said in a press release.
Led by philanthropist Mikey Hoag, the grant program supports early-stage clinical investigations with the goal of slowing, stopping, or impeding Alzheimer’s progression. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates joined Part the Cloud last year with a $10 million award, which led to another $20 million in funding from the Alzheimer’s Association.
The program brings together government, academia, industry, and philanthropists to accelerate science and support researchers. Because dementia affects 50 million individuals globally, including 5 million in the U.S., there is an urgent need for more treatments.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to see how Part the Cloud has grown. Thanks to philanthropic partners like Bill Gates, Part the Cloud is able to invest in more cutting-edge science, and fund researchers who are pushing science into new territories,” Hoag said. “Having seen both of my parents suffer from Alzheimer’s, it is my mission to help move this innovative research forward to find new answers.”
Among this year’s Part the Cloud grant recipients:
- Anat Biegon, PhD, from the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, will lead a Phase 2 trial of aromatase inhibition in Alzheimer’s. The team will use letrozole, a treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for breast cancer, to block aromatase in patients with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s. Aromatase is an enzyme that controls the levels of sex hormones and has been found at increased levels in the tissues of Alzheimer’s patients.
- Christopher Wright, MD, PhD, from Cyclerion Therapeutics, will conduct a Phase 2 trial to examine if an experimental chemical compound called IW-6463 may improve brain blood flow and memory and reduce brain changes observed in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.
- Davangere P Devanand, MD, from the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, will conduct a Phase 2 trial to examine if a antiviral medicine can lower changes in memory and thinking observed in mild cognitive impairment.
- Einor Ben Assayag, PhD, and Hen Hallevi, MD, from the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, will conduct a Phase 2 trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of the antiviral therapy Maraviroc, an FDA-approved HIV medicine, to prevent cognitive decline in those who have experienced a stroke and are at risk of developing dementia.
- Eti Yoles, PhD, and Michal Schwartz, PhD, from ImmunoBrain Checkpoint, will conduct a Phase 1 trial to investigate if the monoclonal antibody IBC-Ab002 can be used to safely enhance the immune system and induce brain repair processes in those with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Hung-Kai Chen, MD, PhD, from Elixiron Immunotherapeutics, will conduct a Phase 1 trial to investigate if a chemical compound that inhibits the CSF1R protein can help reduce brain inflammation.
- John Didsbury, PhD, from T3D Therapeutics, is leading a Phase 2 trial, called PIONEER, testing therapy candidate T3D-959 in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. The compound’s safety and tolerability will be investigated, as well as its capacity to alter brain energy levels to stop or reverse Alzheimer’s progression.
- Krista L Lanctôt, PhD, at Sunnybrook Research Institute, will evaluate if a brain stimulation technique called transcranial direct current stimulation, together with exercise, can help improve cognition in those with vascular cognitive impairment.
- Li-Huei Tsai, PhD, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will conduct a Phase 2 trial to evaluate if stimulating brain nerve cells using a technique called gamma entrainment using sensory stimuli, can prevent the development of Alzheimer’s.
- Miia Kivipelto, MD, PhD, from Imperial College London, will lead a Phase 2b trial, called MET-FINGER-APOE, to understand if combining lifestyle intervention approaches such as physical exercise and diet, together with Metformin, may prevent cognitive decline.
- Nir Grossman, PhD, at Imperial College London, will lead a Phase 1 trial to see if a non-invasive deep brain stimulation technique can stimulate brain cell activity and affect memory and cognition in patients with early Alzheimer’s.
- Paul Edison, PhD, also from Imperial College London, will lead a Phase 2a trial to investigate if semaglutide, an approved medication to treat type 2 diabetes, may work as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment.
- Sudha Seshadri, MD, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, will lead a Phase 2 trial to test if rapamycin — an FDA-approved immunosuppressive medicine — can be repurposed to treat Alzheimer’s.
- Thomas Wisniewski, MD, of the New York University School of Medicine, is conducting a Phase 1 trial to evaluate if a chemical compound that stimulates innate immune responses by acting on a cellular receptor called TLR9 can decrease brain changes in patients with mild Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment.
- David Celermajer, PhD, from the Brain Protection Company, is leading a Phase 1 trial to investigate if a minimally invasive device can reduce blood vessel damage during brain surgery and thus lower the risk of potentially developing dementia.
- Dan Iosifescu, MD, from the New York University School of Medicine, is investigating if transcranial photobiomodulation, a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, might be a safe way to prevent brain changes in those with early Alzheimer’s.
More information on the Part the Cloud program is available here.
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