ADNI3 launches with the help of a donation of over $14 million from patient advocacy groups, industry, and individuals to support critical Alzheimer’s research.

The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) announced last week that it has received a donation of more than $14 million to launch the third phase of the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, or ADNI3, a study aimed at identifying biomarkers from brain scans, genetics, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to detect the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The donation comes from a united effort among several patient advocacy groups, private foundations, industry, and individual donors dedicated to helping make a difference in the field of Alzheimer’s research.

“Additions to the third phase of ADNI include recruiting 1,200 volunteers to join about 800 current participants to enrich the existing dataset, using state-of-the-art imaging techniques to monitor brain levels of tau, a protein that is often abnormal in Alzheimer’s patients, and performing cutting-edge analyses to assess complex interactions between the brain and body,” according to the official FNIH press release. “ADNI3 also will assess cognitive function through computer tests at home and in the doctor’s office and measure changes in subjects’ ability to handle money, which can be a warning sign of the disease.”

The University of Pennsylvania’s John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, director of the Institute on Aging and professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Leslie M. Shaw, PhD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, are heavily involved in ADNI and co-direct its Biomarker Core.

johnheadshot“This phase of ADNI will bring us close to defining highly informative AD biomarkers for the diagnosis of AD even before its clinical onset, thereby making it possible to conduct prevention trials of therapies that could arrest the AD process in presymptomatic individuals even before AD begins to manifest clinically in patients,” said Dr. Trojanowski. “We are so grateful to the donors who have helped make this possible.”

In addition to banking biofluids from their unique cohort of subjects, the Biomarker Core also conducts studies including those to identify new biomarkers and species of tau and a-beta in CSF and plasma.

lesshaw_hsDr. Shaw explained “the ADNI3 study enables us to build on the progress of validation and standardization of AD biomarker tests that detect neuropathologic hallmarks of the disease and track disease progression over years of time within individual study subjects. As a result of the generous support of donors to the ADNI3 study, this work now continues and we expect to see these tests used to determine subject eligibility in therapeutic trials at all stages of the disease and to reflect therapeutic effects.”

To learn more about ADNI, visit: http://www.adni-info.org

Full FNIH Press Release.

Stopping Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias: Advancing our Nation’s Research Agenda — The FY 2018 Bypass Budget

The FY 2018 Bypass Budget, also known as the professional judgment budget, was released last month, estimating that an increase of close to $414 million will be needed to meet the research goals of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the bypass budget “includes a set of targeted milestones and an estimate of the additional investment needed in fiscal year (FY) 2018, above the base for Alzheimer’s and related dementias (ADRD) in the President’s FY 2017 budget to help NIH—and the Nation—move forward to end the devastation of dementia.”

The proposal touches upon several areas of the ADRD plan including Diagnosis, Assessment, and Disease Monitoring, Care and Caregiver Support, Translational Research and Clinical Intervention, and Research Resources. Among the Research Resources, it highlights the NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS),* a web-based warehouse for AD genetics that is stationed at the University of Pennsylvania and led by Li-San Wang, PhD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

NIAGADS collaborates closely with the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC), led by Principal Investigator Gerard Schellenberg, PhD. Both projects play important roles in the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), a presidential initiative under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act to identify genomic variants associated with Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD).

The bypass budget also highlights recent basic, translational, and clinical research as well as studies focused on improving the understanding, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of Alzheimer’s and related dementias, all of which are supported by the NIH.

To review the full proposal, click here.

* New NIAGADS website coming soon

Could this be the breakthrough that Alzheimer’s research has been waiting for?

News of success in a recent drug trial hit the media yesterday, showing some promise in the field of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research. According to the paper published this week in Nature, scientists showed that by using high doses of an antibody called aducanumab that they were able to reduce the amount of amyloid plaques — a building block of Alzheimer’s disease — and essentially erase one of the visible signs of AD in the brain.

The study was conducted by scanning the brains of individuals diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease in which participants were randomly selected to receive either a placebo or one of three doses of the antibody once a month over the course of a year. Results showed that those receiving the highest dosage showed the most reduction of amyloid with some also experiencing a slower rate of cognitive decline.

While this is not the first trial of its kind, one researcher on the study is very hopeful that this could be the breakthrough that Alzheimer’s research has been waiting for. “Compared to other studies published in the past, the effect size of this drug is unprecedented,” said Professor Roger Nitsch of Zurig University in an article issued by the Independent.

Kurt Brunden, PhD, director of Drug Discovery and research professor at Penn’s Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), agrees that the current findings are encouraging, but believes more is needed to verify the true effectiveness.

BrundenKurt_hsThe Phase 1b clinical data obtained with aducanumab appear to be quite encouraging, with the apparent reduction in senile plaque burden as revealed by PET imaging being particularly noteworthy. However, this was a small trial that wasn’t designed to generate definitive data on improvement in patient cognitive performance. Thus, the results from ongoing larger clinical studies with this immunotherapeutic agent will be critical in demonstrating that a reduction in senile plaques in patients with mild cognitive impairments (MCI) or early AD results in an improvement in cognitive measures,” he explained.

Dr. Brunden’s work at CNDR focuses on overseeing research programs geared towards identifying therapeutic targets and potential treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. He is leading this year’s CNDR Marian S. Ware Research Retreat, which will cover the topic of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease Drug Discovery and will feature a variety of presenters from Penn and beyond.

You can learn more about the aducanumab trial in this recently published article by TIME.

The 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC)

An IOA Guest Blog by Rebecca Cweibel, Research Coordinator, AD Genetics, Wang Lab, University of Pennsylvania

The 2016 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) was held last month in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The annual conference gathers thousands of physicians, scholars, and advocates who work on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias (ADRD). The event had such a considerable local impact that banners for the conference appeared throughout Toronto Pearson International Airport, the downtown core, and the event even made the front page of the Toronto Star local newspaper.

The weeklong session hosted plenary sessions, focused research sessions featuring several speakers on similar topics, poster sessions, and many other formats fostering communication around AD. University of Pennsylvania researchers, including members of IOA collaborator Li-San Wang, PhD’s lab presented during the meeting’s poster sessions.

The NIA Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease Data Storage Site (NIAGADS) is the Data Coordinating Center for the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP), an effort designed to meet the research goals outlined in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, and developed under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act.

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Amanda Kuzma presenting her poster on behalf of the ADSP Data Flow Work Group.

The Alzheimer’s Association works to address AD through research grants; publishing Alzheimer’s and Dementia, a peer-reviewed scientific journal; connecting patients and families of those with AD and other dementias, online and in-person; and lobbying congress to continue funding AD.

Given the depth of the Alzheimer’s Association’s reach, AAIC is such a large gathering of AD scholars physicians, and advocates that it is impossible to experience everything the conference has to offer. The Alzheimer’s Association keeps a log of media coverage on the conference, featuring over 70 articles.

Next year, AAIC will take place July 16-20, 2017, in London.

 

Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) Receives $8.8 Million Renewal

It was announced today that the University of Pennsylvania’s Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) has officially been awarded a five year, $8.8 million renewal from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue investigating the progression, diagnostics, treatments, and strategies of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“We are hopeful our support for the Penn ADC research program will lead to novel findings on the basic mechanisms involved in these diseases, and innovative new programs aimed at improving the lives of those living with dementia and their caregivers,” explained Nina Silverberg, PhD, an Alzheimer’s Disease Centers program director at NIA, in the Penn Medicine announcement.

The Penn ADCC has a history of groundbreaking discoveries, including identifying the protein tau as the building block of neurofibrillary tangles, as well as the role of alpha-synuclein in forming the Lewy bodies that are found in Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Lewy body dementia, and 50% of Alzheimer’s cases.

Learn more about the Penn ADCC in the video* below:

Read the full Penn Medicine Announcement here.

Visit the Penn ADCC website here.

* Steven Arnold, MD is no longer at the University of Pennsylvania. David A. Wolk, MD is now the Clinical Core leader for the Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC).

 

“To sleep, per chance to age… and avoid Alzheimer’s disease”: A recap of the 2016 Sylvan M. Cohen Annual Retreat

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, the Institute on Aging hosted its annual Sylvan M. Cohen Retreat and Poster Session. This year’s retreat, titled “To sleep, per chance to age… and avoid Alzheimer’s disease,” was co-sponsored by Penn’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and explored the effects of sleep loss and it’s possible link to Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.

corrected_DJquoteAs usual, the event began with lunch and a series of lectures, but this year we had the pleasure of having J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, dean of the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM), join us for opening remarks.

He expressed his excitement to see such collaboration amongst the two sponsoring centers and encouraged more of this, not only in the PSOM, but also across the University as a whole. “One of the secrets at Penn Medicine is that we have these catalytic centers and institutes and it’s even more impressive that there is often cross fertilization between them,” explained Dean Jameson.

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Keynote speaker, David M. Holtzman, MD, professor and chairman, Department of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine, kicked off the lectures by discussing his research in “Understanding the Relationships between Sleep, Protein Aggregation, and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Other topics, covered by our Penn Presenters, included (click for video interviews):

Immediately following the lectures, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and beyond presented their current aging-related work at our annual Poster Session. Categories included basic science, clinical research, & education and community and awards were given to the top posters.

Poster Winners

BASIC SCIENCE

1st Place
BasicSciecne1Enhancing a WNT-telomere feedback loop restores intestinal stem cell function in a human organotypic model of dyskeratosis congenita
Presenter: Dong-Hun Woo
Authors: Dong-Hun Woo, Qijun Chen, Ting-Lin B. Yang, M. Rebecca Glineburg, Carla Hoge, Nicolae A. Leu, F. Brad Johnson, and Christopher J. Lengner

 

2nd Place
BasicSciecne2AB Plaques Mediate Neuritic Plaque-like Tau Pathology that is Distinct from Perikaryal Tau Inclusions
Presenters: Zhuohao He
Authors: Zhuohao He, Jing L. Guo, Jennifer D. McBride, Lakshmi Changolkar, Bin Zhang, Ronald J. Gathagan, Hyesung Kim, Sneha Narasimhan, Kurt R. Brunden, John Q. Trojanowski, Virginia M.-Y. Lee


CLINICAL RESEARCH and EDUCATION & COMMUNITY *

1st Place
ClinRes1Tau Pathology Influences Dementia Onset and Survival in Lewy Body Spectrum Disorders
Presenter: David Irwin
Authors: David J. Irwin, MD MSTR, Murray Grossman MD, Daniel Weintraub MD, Howard I. Hurtig MD, John E. Duda MD, Sharon X. Xie PhD, Edward B. Lee MD PhD, Vivianna M. Van Deerlin MD, PhD,Oscar L. Lopez MD, Julia K. Kofler MD, Peter T. Nelson, MD PhD, Randy Woltjer MD PhD, Joseph F. Quinn MD, Jeffery Kaye MD, James B Leverenz MD, Debby Tsuang MD, MSc, Katelan Longfellow MD, Dora Yearout BS, Walter Kukull PhD, C. Dirk Keene MD, PhD, Thomas J. Montine MD, PhD, Cyrus P. Zabetian MD MS, John Q. Trojanowski MD PhD

2nd Place
ClinRes2Clinical Profile of Older Adults with Mild or No Cognitive Impairment Who Receive Prescriptions for Cholinesterase Inhibitors and/or Memantine: A descriptive study from the PACE/PACENET BHL Caregiver Resources, Education and Support (CREST) Program
Presenter: Romika Dhar, MD
Authors: Romika Dhar, MD; Amy Benson, MSEd; Joel E. Streim, MD; David W. Oslin, MD

* Due to the number of posters submitted, the categories for Clinical Research and Education & Community were combined.

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To view some of the full lectures from our retreat, click here.
* Please note: Some of the lectures are not available to view due to unpublished data being presented *

View more photos from our 2016 Sylvan M. Cohen Retreat Facebook album here.

PA Senator Pat Toomey Convenes Hearing on Alzheimer’s Disease

On Wednesday, July 13, 2016, Pennsylvania State Senator Pat Toomey led a Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing to address the difficult challenges of patients, family members, and the Medicare program caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Senator Toomey urged the subcommittee to review four key areas – improving accurate diagnosis, support for caregivers, encouraging long-term care financial planning, and most of all, the need for a cure.

“Alzheimer’s is in a category of its own in terms of its breadth, lethality, and the severity of the disease. We estimate 5.2 million Americans with Alzheimer’s. It’s 100 percent fatal,” he explained in his opening remarks, also stating:

“The NIH budget is about $32 billion per year. Alzheimer’s research receives less than three percent of the funding. The fact is there are other non-fatal and treatable diseases that receive far more resources in their research. I think we need to increase our Alzheimer’s research, and we need to do it in a fiscally responsible way.”

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Pictured: Sen. Toomey (left) with John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, Director, IOA, Co-director, CNDR, and Kurt Brunden, Director of Drug Discovery at CNDR

In 2014, Senator Toomey visited the University of Pennsylvania for a tour of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR), a center dedicated to promoting and conducting multidisciplinary clinical and basic research on the causes and progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), and more.

For Senator Toomey, Alzheimer’s is not just an important public health concern. With a father who is currently battling Alzheimer’s and a grandmother who lost her life to the disease, it is personal as well. Senator Toomey is an avid Alzheimer’s advocate and has met with caregivers across Pennsylvania hearing their stories and sharing his own with the goal working together to end this debilitating condition. He serves as Co-Chair on the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and continues to stress the need to increased research funding.