Nearly $4 million to fund drug discovery research for Alzheimer's, other dementia

The Alzheimer's Association® and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation have joined forces again to fund drug discovery research towards finding therapies for Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal degeneration, and other tauopathies.

The partners are awarding nearly $4 million to fund drug discovery approaches that aim to remove or mitigate the effects of abnormal tau, a toxic brain protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, and other tauopathies. Previous studies have found that removing or blocking tau "tangles" holds great potential to delay, slow or prevent Alzheimer's and other dementia, making it a high priority target for therapies.

To enable researchers to explore fundamentally new ways to prevent, reduce or remove tau from the brain, the Alzheimer's Association and Rainwater Charitable Foundation's Tau Consortium have completed a second year of the Tau Pipeline Enabling Program (T-PEP II). This year, eight additional research groups have been awarded grants, which are funded on a one-for-one matching ratio by the partners.

T-PEP II aims to shorten the timeline from discoveries in laboratory settings to clinical trials in people living with Alzheimer's and other dementia.

"The abnormal build-up of tau is closely linked to changes in memory, reasoning and behavior," said Heather Snyder, Ph.D., Vice President, Medical & Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer's Association. "The research we're co-funding through this program will expand the pipeline of possible treatments and accelerate the pace of progress toward finding effective treatments for Alzheimer's and other dementia."

"We are excited to continue this matching grant program with the Alzheimer's Association," said Leticia Toledo-Sherman, Ph.D., Senior Director of Drug Discovery at the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. "Given the difficulties in developing drugs for these complex disorders, we need more shots on goal. We will stay involved with these programs and use our drug discovery expertise to help them succeed."

The eight awardees were selected from an outstanding pool of more than 100 U.S. and international applicants. This year's awardees are:

  • Daniel Chain, PhD, TauC3 Biologics Limited (London, United Kingdom)
    Project title: TauC3: A Key Tauopathy Culprit and an Antibody to Mitigate its Effects
  • Matthew Disney, PhD, The Scripps Research Institute (Jupiter, FL)
    Project title: Reducing Tau Burden by Targeting its RNA with Small Molecules
  • Jeff Friedman, MD, PhD, DTx Pharma, LLC (San Diego, CA)
    Project title: Safe and Effective Delivery of MSUT2 siRNA for Treatment of Tauopathy
  • Stephen Haggarty, PhD, Mass. General Hospital/Harvard Medical School (Boston, MA)
    Project title: Bifunctional Tau Degraders as a Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Tauopathy
  • Kenneth S. Kosik, MD, University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)
    Project title: Farnesyl Transferase Inhibitors to Treat Tauopathies
  • Janice Kranz, PhD, Eikonizo Therapeutics, Inc. (Cambridge, MA)
    Project title: HDAC6 Inhibitors to Treat Tauopathies: Proof of Mechanism
  • Albert La Spada, MD, PhD, Duke University Medical Center (Durham, NC)
    Project title: Evaluation of PPAR-delta Agonist Therapy as a Treatment for Tauopathy
  • Patrik Verstreken, PhD, VIB (Leuven, Belgium)
    Project title: Therapeutic Strategies to Target Tau-Synaptogyrin-3 Interaction

Patrick Brannelly, Managing Director of the Tau Consortium, said:

The size and quality of this year's applicant pool shows how much progress the scientific community has made in developing new approaches that could lead to potential treatments for these tauopathies. These talented teams are giving hope to the millions of people around the world who are affected by these terrible disorders."

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