By Jessica Kent, Health IT Analytics | October 3, 2019
The National Institutes on Aging (NIA), part of NIH, have launched two new research centers designed to advance precision medicine for Alzheimer’s disease and reinvigorate the drug development pipeline.
The Alzheimer Centers for the Discovery of New Medicines will receive more than $73 million from NIA over the next five years and will help develop therapies that effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease.
The centers will also provide infrastructure needed to develop advanced research tools and technologies to validate the next generation of Alzheimer’s drugs. Scientists will disseminate data, research methodologies, and experimental tools to the wider research community for use in drug discovery.
“Through these centers, NIH will expand the use of open-science and open-source principles to de-risk novel drug targets with the goal of facilitating the development of new treatments for Alzheimer’s,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD.
Alzheimer’s is among the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century, NIH stated. The disease affects an estimated 5.6 million people aged 65 and older in the US. Without effective treatment and prevention, that number could rise as high as 14 million by 2050.
Currently, there are few treatments for the disease that are approved by the FDA, and several recent clinical trials testing disease-modifying drug candidates have failed.
“Drug development for Alzheimer’s disease is a challenging, costly and high-risk endeavor,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, MD. “The launch of these centers marks a strategic step forward in our multi-pronged approach to accelerating discovery and development of treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s.”
The two new centers will feature research teams with experience in developing and promoting open-access science practices. Investigators will have expertise in data science, computational biology, disease biology, pharmacology, and clinical science.
One of the centers, called the Open Drug Discovery Center for Alzheimer’s Disease (Open-AD), will launch at Emory University in Atlanta. Researchers will focus on developing a series of hypotheses around a prioritized set of targets and will build a suite of new tools that will help advance Alzheimer’s drug discovery.
The second center, called the Indiana University School of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Discovery center, will bridge previous research with newly discovered molecules that will be studied in Alzheimer’s disease animal models. Specifically, the team will focus on those based on human pathology.
Researchers at Indiana University will build a diverse portfolio of Alzheimer’s drug targets with a particular focus on immune pathways. The new center will also make its data and research available to the wider community through an open access data sharing platform.
With these new centers, NIA will continue to develop new ways of targeting and treating Alzheimer’s, leading to improved care and prevention efforts.
“Through these centers, scientists will advance drug discovery for new targets to the point of attracting external partners who can take them into clinical development. Ultimately, we need many candidate therapeutics that target multiple aspects of the disease in the drug development pipeline because there’s not likely to be a single cure for Alzheimer’s,” said Lorenzo Refolo, PhD, program director for Alzheimer’s Translational Research at NIA.