Texas industrialist James Truchard has donated $5 million to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to help piece together the complex puzzle of Alzheimer’s disease. The announcement, made today at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting in San Diego, California, comes on the heels of news of another private donation: six $1 million grants from Part the Cloud to support early phase clinical trials.
After a long period of draught, funds have started flowing into AD research. In September, the U.S. federal government allocated $2.34 billion for 2019, injecting an extra $425 million into its AD budget as compared to last year (Sep 2018 news; Aug 2018 news).
Now Truchard, retired president and CEO of National Instruments, is offering prizes to scientists who succeed in assembling a holistic picture of AD. “The [goal] is to integrate knowledge about AD into an explanation that brings unity to the vast amount of information that we have available,” wrote UTSA’s George Perry in an email to Alzforum. The newly established Oskar Fischer Project, headed by Perry, will put together an international group of experts to select winners based on their submitted syntheses of the approximately 130,000 published articles in the field. The call for proposals opens February 2019. The awards include a grand prize of $2 million, two second-place prizes of $500,000 each, and four third-place prizes of $250,000 each. The remaining $1 million from the gift will be used to fund UTSA research and run the challenge.
Truchard named the project in honor of Fischer, a contemporary of Alois Alzheimer who described AD in greater depth than Alzheimer himself, but whose contributions were neglected as anti-Semitism took hold of Germany and Prague, where Fischer worked, in the late 1930s and early 1940s (Mar 2009 news).
On October 30, Part the Cloud, a program of the Alzheimer’s Association, announced the winners of grants to run early clinical trials across two years. Awardees include Roberta Diaz Brinton, University of Arizona in Tucson, whose Phase 2a study will test whether the progesterone metabolite allopregnanolone can help restore brain function (Jun 2018 conference news). Funding also goes to a Phase 1 study of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) led by Rafael de la Torre, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, Barcelona, Spain, and a Phase 2 study of a modulator of hepatocyte growth factor, NDX-1017, conducted by Xue Hua of M3 Biotechnology Inc. in Seattle. Paul Newhouse at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, will run a Phase 2a trial to test the effects of M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor modulator VU319, in people with mild cognitive impairment (Dec 2017 conference news). Stephen Strittmatter, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, will evaluate a blocker of the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5, mGluR5 SAM (May 2016 news). Part the Cloud also noted its intent to fund a Phase 1 study of the TNFα inhibitor XPRO1595 led by Raymond Tesi, INmune Bio, Inc. in La Jolla, California (Mar 2015 conference news).—Marina Chicurel
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