The National Institutes on Aging, a part of the National Institutes of Health, is funding two new research centers under The Alzheimer Centers for the Discovery of New Medicines, with more than $73 million over the next five years.

With the growing aging population, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is among the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century. It affects an estimated 5.6 million people age 65 and older in the U.S. alone, a number that could rise as high as 14 million by 2050 without effective treatment and prevention. There are few current treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and several recent, late-stage clinical trials have failed.

New data suggest that clinical AD is a highly diverse, multimodal and multicomponent disease, caused by manifold genetic and environmental factors acting to perturb molecular networks across multiple interrelated biological pathways. This realization, coupled with the failure of numerous anti-amyloid drugs, has raised a degree of skepticism on the current amyloid-based model of AD and has highlighted the need for alternative therapeutic approaches that require the identification of next generation, novel AD drug targets. Therefore, to improve, reinvigorate and diversify the AD drug development pipeline, next generation targets must be evaluated, prioritized, and advanced into drug discovery campaigns.

The Alzheimer Centers for the Discovery of New Medicines grants were awarded to two multi-institutional research teams with extensive experience in developing and promoting open-access science practices. Each team brings together world-class expertise in data science, computational biology, disease biology, structural biology, assay development, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology and clinical science.

The Open Drug Discovery Center for Alzheimer’s Disease (Open-AD) will be led by Allan Levey, M.D., Ph.D.Emory University, Atlanta; Lara Mangravite, Ph.D.Sage Bionetworks, Seattle; and Aled Edwards, Ph.D.Structural Genomics Consortium, which has research sites in North Carolina, Toronto and Oxford, UK. Open-AD will develop a suite of target enabling tools including high quality antibodies and chemical probes, and openly disseminate all data, methods and reagents to any interested academic and/or commercial investigator to accelerate validation of novel drug targets and to seed new drug discovery efforts.

The Indiana University School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Discovery Center will be led by Alan Palkowitz, Ph.D.Bruce Lamb, Ph.D. and Andrew Saykin, PSYD at Indiana University, Indianapolis, with researchers from Purdue University, West Lafayette.

Both centers will build off the prior work of the Accelerating Medicines Partnership-Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP-AD) program’s open-science enterprise, which has provided more than 500 new candidate targets for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer Centers for the Discovery of New Medicines are funded through NIA grant numbers U54AG065187 and U54AG065181.

Source: National Institute of Aging

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