NIH Provides $52 Million Grant for the Study of AD

The National Institutes of Health has awarded the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) $52 million to test the effectiveness of therapies to slow the progression and treat symptoms of Alzheimer disease (AD). New initiatives will include 3 studies to explore the effects of therapies on amyloid-β peptide and the tau protein, as well as an initiative to identify new methods for conducting dementia research.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) $52 million to test the effectiveness of therapies to slow the progression and treat symptoms of Alzheimer disease (AD). New initiatives will include 3 studies to explore the effects of therapies on amyloid-β peptide and the tau protein, as well as an initiative to identify new methods for conducting dementia research.

Based on the results of observational studies that have associated high fish consumption with reduced risk of AD, Joseph Quinn, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Neurology, Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, will lead a team of ADCS researchers to examine whether treatment with docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, may slow cognitive decline in those with AD.

Norman R. Relkin, MD, director of the Memory Disorders Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and associate professor of clinical neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, will lead researchers in a study to investigate immunization strategies for AD using immunoglobulin, which contains naturally occurring antibodies against amyloid-β that may improve cognition.

Because patients aged 75 years and older tend to have physical, social, and health limitations, they are often unable to participate in research trials. Mary Sano, PhD, professor of psychiatry and the director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York will lead researchers in examining the use of various data collection techniques, including mail-in questionnaires, automated telephone technology, and computerized data collection to identify the best practices for home-based assessments in primary prevention trials.

Animal models have shown that lithium may block abnormal changes in tau, so ADCS investigators will undertake a pilot biomarker study to investigate whether the drug can lower tau and amyloid-β levels in cerebrospinal fluid and be safely tolerated in older patients. Pierre Tariot, MD, a geriatric psychiatrist and associate director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix will lead this study.

These studies will be conducted in addition to ongoing ADCS trials, which are testing whether statins and high-dose folate, B6, and B12 supplements can slow the clinical signs of AD. Researchers from the ADCS also are studying whether valproate may slow cognitive decline or delay the agitation and psychosis that often present in patients with AD.
-Myra Partridge