Two BUSM Faculty Receive Alzheimer’s disease Grants

in 2013, News Releases, School of Medicine
July 12th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 11, 2013

Contact: Gina Orlando, (617) 638-8490, gina.orlando@bmc.org

 

Two BUSM Faculty Receive Alzheimer’s disease Grants

(Boston) -  David Harris, MD, PhD, chair and professor of biochemistry and Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics and neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), have received Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium (MNC) Awards. Each will receive a $250,000 grant allowing their teams to explore new therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s disease.

Harris is developing a novel approach to the therapy of Alzheimer’s disease based on targeting a newly recognized molecular pathway responsible for neurodegeneration. Based on this approach, drug compounds have the potential to overcome some of the limitations of existing medications. Current treatments are largely ineffective and do not halt the cognitive decline associated with the disease.

 

“This award will significantly enhance our ability to develop improved therapies for Alzheimer’s disease by allowing us to interact with industry partners, which is an important element of drug development,” said Harris.

 

Harris’ laboratory at BUSM investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying two classes of human neurodegenerative disorders: prion diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. Prion and Alzheimer’s diseases are part of a larger group of neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and several other diseases.

 

Wolozin is developing compounds that inhibit aggregation and toxicity caused by TDP-43, a protein that forms aggregates in Alzheimer’s disease as well as other diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. He is known for his Alzheimer’s research, which focuses on the role of cholesterol in Alzheimer’s disease and investigating mechanisms in which statins may impact the pathophysiology of the disease.

 

“This grant emphasizes the importance of collaboration between BUSM and development programs at major pharmaceutical companies in the Boston area,” said Wolozin.

Principal Investigator of the project, Wolozin is working with Marcie Glicksman, PhD, and Kevin Hodgetts, PhD, co-directors of the Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration (LDDN) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The teams will divide the work between biology and chemistry.

MNC comprises six pharmaceutical companies that have joined together to identify new targets in neuroscience. Unique for its proposed short-term, results-oriented projects, the consortium funds research of an array of diseases in an attempt to bring patients and their families closer to a cure for certain neurodegenerative diseases.

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About Boston University School of Medicine

Originally established in 1848 as the New England Female Medical College, and incorporated into Boston University in 1873, Boston University School of Medicine today is a leading academic medical center with an enrollment of more than 700 medical students and more than 800 masters and PhD students.  Its 1,246 full and part-time faculty members generated more than $335 million in funding in the 2009-2010 academic year for research in amyloidosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious disease, pulmonary disease and dermatology among others. The School is affiliated with Boston Medical Center, its principal teaching hospital, the Boston and Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Centers and 16 other regional hospitals as well as the Boston HealthNet.

 

About the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium

The Consortium is a pioneering new model that is designed to accelerate significant breakthroughs in neuroscience and is founded on the belief that companies will accelerate such breakthroughs by working together. Consortium Members have pooled their resources to fund the identification and validation of novel targets for the symptomatic treatment and modification of chronic and debilitating neurological diseases. Proposals are being solicited within the primary focus areas of Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuropathic Pain, and Parkinson’s disease. All proposals must be anchored in recognized human disease genetics and pathophysiology, or within pathways of known relevance to human disease, and should be translational, rather than exploratory.

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