NIH Launches Program to Investigate Link Between Alzheimer’s and Vascular Disease

Patricia Inacio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inacio, PhD |

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Alzheimer's study

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), both part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have launched the Molecular Mechanisms of the Vascular Etiology of Alzheimer’s Disease (M²OVE-AD) Consortium to better understand how the body’s vascular system, its network of large and small blood vessels, contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.

The program is set for five years and has an allocated budget of $30 million. The consortium is composed by a multidisciplinary team of scientists that, focusing on different approaches, will dissect the molecular mechanisms by which vascular factors impact Alzheimer’s disease onset and progression, and hopefully identify new potential therapeutic targets.

“A growing body of research suggests vascular damage often contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. This focused collaborative effort may push our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease over a tipping point and facilitate the development of better treatments for those who are suffering,”Roderick Corriveau, PhD, program director at NINDS, said in a press release.

Using brain tissue donated by deceased Alzheimer’s research participants, and blood cells and plasma donated by living participants with various types of vascular risks, researchers will investigate molecular patterns. They will then combine the molecular data with cognition and brain imaging to develop mathematical models for understating how vascular risk factors impact Alzheimer’s. Further studies include using animal models with different vascular disease traits to identify the mechanisms linking vascular risk factors and Alzheimer’s, and to test their findings by correlating them with human data.

“Despite evidence that the brains of most Alzheimer’s patients have a variety of vascular lesions, and that mid-life diabetes and high blood pressure are major risk factors for Alzheimer’s, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved is quite limited. M²OVE-AD will not only advance our understanding of these mechanisms, but also identify the molecular signatures — sets of genes, proteins and metabolites — that may be used as markers for disease risk or to track the effectiveness of promising therapies,” said Richard J. Hodes, MD, director of the NIA.

Suzana Petanceska, PhD, senior advisor for strategic development and partnerships in the NIA Division of Neuroscience, concluded: “Breaking down the traditional barriers to collaboration and data-sharing is key to moving the science forward, so we’ve ensured that the discoveries each team makes can be rapidly shared among the Consortium and the wider research community. We’ve also established a panel of external leading experts to help shape the direction of M2OVE-AD research and potentially, bring about new partnerships and avenues of investigation.”

More information on the projects supported by the M2OVE-AD Consortium can be found here.