LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 7, 2016) — The Alzheimer’s Association has awarded Dr. Linda Van Eldik, of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, a Part the Cloud Translational Research for Alzheimer’s Disease grant. This funding will support research critical to developing new preventions and treatments for the disease.
Van Eldik’s team is focused on brain inflammation and why neurodegenerative disorders exhibit overactive and chronic inflammation that can lead to disruption of normal communication among brain cells and cause nerve cell damage. Her research is identifying potential points of intervention, with a goal of developing new drugs to slow the progression of impairment. Van Eldik has developed a drug candidate that selectively suppresses disease- and injury-induced overproduction of detrimental pro-inflammatory molecules, and reduces disease pathology and cognitive impairment in animal models. The grant provides Dr. Van Eldik $997,738 in project funding over two years to test the drug candidate for safety in humans.
“Brain inflammation is now recognized as being an important driver of neurodegenerative disease progression, and we desperately need new brain-penetrant, selective anti-inflammatory drugs to be tested in humans, said Van Eldik. This new Part the Cloud funding will help us determine safe and potentially optimal doses of this drug candidate.”
Many academic researchers and biotechnology companies have identified new drug therapy candidates, but lack the funding to move them into clinical trials. Alzheimer’s Association Part the Cloud funding supports 1) early phase studies of potential Alzheimer’s therapies in people and 2) projects to validate markers for detecting the presence, progression, or risk of Alzheimer’s in body fluids and brain imaging. These markers have the potential to speed up therapy development by helping researchers understand whether an intervention being tested is effective.
“The Part the Cloud initiative is an essential part of Alzheimer’s Association research funding because new, more-effective Alzheimer’s therapies are desperately needed. In the United States alone, more than 5 million people live with this disease. That number is projected to more than triple to over 13 million by 2050 unless ways to stop, slow, or prevent it are found,” said Executive Director, DeeAnna Esslinger. “This new grant allows Dr. Van Eldik and her team to begin testing this therapy now instead of waiting on other funding sources, or not being able to do so at all.”
Linda Jo Van Eldik, PhD, is Director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, Co-Director of the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute, the Vernon Smith Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research, and Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the University of Kentucky. She is also Director of the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Center, a National Institutes of Health-funded center internationally recognized for its contributions to the fight against brain diseases associated with aging. Dr. Van Eldik received her PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Duke University. She is a past recipient of the Zenith Award from the Alzheimer’s Association and a MERIT award from the National Institute on Aging.
This latest round of Part the Cloud awards supports four scientific investigations totaling more than $3 million. The program supports both academic and company-based projects. It is funded by proceeds generated through annual benefit events founded in 2012 by Atherton, California, resident Michaela “Mikey” Hoag. Hoag’s efforts in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association have raised more than $17 million for Alzheimer’s research.
Part the Cloud is part of the broader Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant Program that has awarded more than $375 million to more than 2,400 projects. Alzheimer’s Association funding has led to some of the most important research breakthroughs. This includes supporting some of the first Alzheimer’s drug studies and development of the first chemical tracer making it possible to visualize amyloid buildup in the living brain.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. It kills more Americans than diabetes and more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s may nearly triple, to as many as 13 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease. In Kentucky alone, there are almost 70,000 people living with Alzheimer’s.
For more information, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.