Cleveland–The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) and the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland have awarded the ADDF-Harrington Scholar Award to Christian Rahn, MD, DVM, assistant professor of medicine in the Cardiovascular Research Center and the Brooms Center for Brain Health at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Dr. Wrann will receive funding and drug development guidance to help advance her research toward potential new treatments for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
“The ADDF-Harrington partnership is helping scientists move academic discoveries out of the laboratory, and ultimately into the clinic to improve the lives of people with and at risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Howard Villette, co-founder and chief science officer at ADDF. .
Studies have shown that physical activity, especially endurance exercise, can improve cognitive function in part by reducing inflammation in the brain. Dr. Ran focused on finding out why this happened and how this could be translated into an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s patients.
Specifically, Dr. Wrann and her team isolated a hormone called irisin that’s secreted during exercise, which they show is the primary driver of exercise’s benefits to the brain. They have also shown in mice that genetic deletion of the iris impairs cognitive function, while its elevation improves cognition and reduces brain inflammation.
The ADDF-Harrington Award includes up to $600,000 in financial support. Dr. Wrann and her team will investigate dosing strategies for use in humans that would allow enough irisin to cross the blood-brain barrier in order to do its job. The team is also validating biomarker tests, including a blood test that will enable doctors to monitor how well the drug reaches its intended target in the brain.
“This is an exciting new target with strongly supporting data,” said Dr. Andrew Pepper, director of the Center for Brain Health Medicines at Harrington Discovery Institute, and Morley Mather Professor of Neuropsychiatry at the University of Neuropsychiatry Hospital Health System, Case Western Reserve University.
Now in its eighth year, the ADDF-Harrington Partnership is accelerating the translation of innovative academic research into medicines that treat, prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.
About Harrington Discovery Institute
The Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio—part of the Harrington Discovery and Development Project—aims to advance medicine and society by empowering scientists to turn their discoveries into medicines that improve human health. Established in 2012 with a $50 million founding gift from the Harrington family, the Harrington Discovery Institute represents the commitment they share with University Hospitals to a vision of a “better world.” For more information, visit: HarringtonDiscovery.org.
About the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation
The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation was founded in 1998 by Leonard A. and Ronald S. Lauder, which is dedicated to accelerating drug discovery to prevent, treat, and cure Alzheimer’s disease. ADDF is the only public charity focused solely on funding drug development for Alzheimer’s disease, employing a philanthropy model to support research in academia and the biotechnology industry. ADFD’s leadership and contributions in this area have been pivotal in bringing the first PET scan for Alzheimer’s disease (Amyvid™) and blood test (PrecivityAD™) to market, in addition to supporting the existing robust and diverse drug pipeline. Through the generosity of donors, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has awarded nearly $250 million to fund more than 720 Alzheimer’s drug discovery and biomarker programs and clinical trials in 19 countries. To learn more, please visit: http://www.alzdiscovery.org/.
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