New Local Research Grants Awarded

The Alzheimer’s Association is the largest private, nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research and we are proud that so many of the world’s leading Alzheimer’s innovators can be found right here in our own back yard. In the past year, we awarded nine research grants to scientists in our chapter.

Part the Cloud Translational Research Bridge Funding for Alzheimer’s Disease in Northern California

Dale E. Bredesen, M.D., Buck Institute for Research on Aging
An Exploratory Safety, PK/PD, and Preliminary Efficacy Study of F03 in MCI
Dr. Bredesen will conduct a first-step clinical trial of a drug called F03. This trial will help determine the safety and efficacy of F03 that may warrant further study in phase II or phase III trials. This study could also provide clues about the fundamental causes of Alzheimer’s and the role of different forms of beta-amyloid. This information could be used in the future to design even better treatment strategies for preventing or halting disease progression.

Ahmad Salehi, M.D., Ph.D., Palo Alto Institute for Research & Education, Inc.
Improving ß2 Adrenergic Signaling in Alzheimer’s Disease
Dr. Salehi will conduct a first-step clinical trial of a drug called formoterol in people with moderate Alzheimer’s disease. He will monitor the effects of the drug in the brain by measuring brain function, biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease and changes in brain structure using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. This trial will help determine if formoterol warrants further study as a possible way to improve brain function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Keith Vossel, M.D., University of California, San Francisco
Phase 2a Levetiracetam Trial for AD-Associated Network Hyperexcitabilit
Dr. Vossel will conduct a clinical trial of epilepsy drug levetiracetam in people with early-onset Alzheimer’s and mild brain seizures. The trial will test how levetiracetam affects brain function and will help determine if the drug warrants further study as a treatment for seizures in people who have early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

New Investigator Research Grants

Brianne Magouirk Bettcher, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
Pro-Inflammatory Genetic Polymorphisms and Cognition in Amnestic MCI
Dr. Bettcher will study how certain known genetic characteristics affect brain function in people at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers will study how variations in specific genes across different people affect (1) markers of inflammation in the blood, and (2) declines in brain function. This study will address important questions about the role of inflammation in the early onset and progression of brain impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Owen T. Carmichael, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
Imaging Biomarkers of Preclinical Cerebrovascular Disease
Dr. Carmichael will use sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging techniques to assess four potential biomarkers of preclinical cerebrovascular disease (CVD). Results of this effort could lead to larger studies that clarify, step-by-step, how CVD-related brain changes occur over time. Ultimately, such work could identify treatments that target both cerebrovascular disease and dementia.

Jin Hyung Lee, Ph.D., Stanford University
Direct Network Visualization of Alzheimer’s Drug Efficacy Using optogenetic functional MRI (ofMRI)

Dr. Lee will test the effectiveness of drugs for treatment of animal models with Alzheimer’s-like disease. This study may provide a more rapid way to test the effectiveness of drugs without scientists having to perform prolonged, laborious studies of animal behavior or learning. The technique may accelerate the development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Judy Pa, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
Neurobiological Changes in Network Function and Amyloid Deposition in Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Pa will use brain imaging to study how amyloid accumulation in specific brain regions affects brain function, focusing on how they exchange signals with other brain regions. The goal of the research is to determine how genetic risk factors and amyloid deposits affect brain function observed on imaging. The results of this research may provide scientists with tools that can be used to monitor disease progression or response to treatment.

Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer’s Care Grants
Dolores E. Gallagher-Thompson, Ph.D., Stanford University

Global Caregiving: iSupport for Dementia Family Caregivers
Dr. Gallagher-Thompson will team up with the World Health Organization to develop an interactive web-based caregiver support tool (iSupport) that is accessible via computer, tablet and mobile phone. The team hopes to conduct a trial in Bangalore, India where internet penetration is high. The ultimate goal of the study will be to reduce caregiver stress measured by the Zarit Burden Scale. This tool can be immediately disseminated within India, and readily scaled to other countries, potentially affecting millions of caregivers.

Investigator-Initiated Research Grants
Jorge J. Palop, Ph.D., The J. David Gladstone Institutes
Cell-Based Therapy to Restore Brain Functions in Mouse Models
Dr. Palop’s team has identified a part of the brain known as the medial ganglionic eminence, where a specific type of nerve cell called interneurons first start to grow during early development. Interneurons then migrate to other parts of the brain. Loss of interneurons has been show to disrupt the normal rhythmic activity in a part of the brain crucial for memory formation. Dr. Palop will transplant interneurons from the medial ganglionic eminence into the brains of mice affected by an Alzheimer’s-like condition. The researchers will test whether such a transplant procedure can restore normal brain rhythms and brain function in the affected mice. This study is a first step in testing whether such a cell transplant procedure could be a valuable treatment for humans with Alzheimer’s disease.

View local researchers talking about their research efforts and their hopes for the future of Alzheimer’s research on our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/AlzheimersNVCA