Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative

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Banner Alzheimer’s Institute gets $10M in new funding

The Alzheimer’s Association, GHR Foundation and Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative announced $10 million in new research funding to Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI), Phoenix, Arizona, to support a groundbreaking Alzheimer’s disease prevention trial that will launch later this year.

The funding, to be paid over five years as part of a broad public/private partnership, supports and extends the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API) APOE4 trial. The study is focused on determining whether therapies targeting amyloid proteins in the brain may prevent or delay the emergence of Alzheimer’s symptoms in people at particularly high genetic risk for developing the disease at older ages.

The new funding will support three aspects of the API APOE4 trial that otherwise would not be possible: (1) brain PET imaging at the start of the trial and two-year follow-up in 125 participants each year, (2) a sub-study to evaluate two remote genetic counseling approaches, and (3) expansion of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry for the APOE4 trial.

“The goal is to accelerate the global effort to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease,” said Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer. “Through efforts such as API, the Alzheimer’s Association envisions a time when we will have effective treatments to slow or stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks; plus preventive strategies and gold-standard care for all people affected by Alzheimer’s.”

The Alzheimer’s Association led the effort to bring the three funding organizations together. The award to API includes a $5 million lead gift from the GHR Foundation, a private family foundation.

API is led by BAI’s executive director, Eric Reiman, M.D., its director, Pierre Tariot, M.D., and one of its principal scientists, Jessica Langbaum, Ph.D.

“We are extremely grateful to these three organizations for their extraordinary support,” said Dr. Reiman. “These funds will not only help make it possible to evaluate two promising Alzheimer’s prevention therapies, but to do so in a way that will help the field find treatments that work as soon as possible.”

API was established to rapidly evaluate potential new treatments in people prior to developing clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s who, based on their age and genetic background, are at highest risk of developing symptoms of the disease, including the API APOE4 trial and the Autosomal Dominant Alzheimer’s Disease Trial. That study is evaluating an investigational anti-amyloid therapy in 300 cognitively normal members of an extended family in Colombia, South America that includes carriers of a rare genetic mutation causing them to develop Alzheimer’s by about age 45. API is committed to sharing trial data and biological samples with the research community to help find better ways to test prevention therapies in the future, and to clarifying the role of APOE genetic testing and disclosure.

The API APOE4 trial is focused on how two investigational anti-amyloid therapies may prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s symptoms in a population known to be at high risk for the disease because of their age and genetic status. Specifically, participants in the trial must be age 60-75 and carry two copies of the APOE-e4 gene that greatly increases their risk for developing Alzheimer’s.

The trial will test two different potential therapies to see if one or both can prevent the development of memory and thinking symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The first treatment is an active immunotherapy aimed at triggering the body’s immune system to produce antibodies that block different forms of the amyloid protein, which many researchers believe plays a critical role in the development of Alzheimer’s. The second drug is designed to prevent the production of amyloid protein that accumulates in the brain to form plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. The trial will involve about 1,300 research participants. Pending regulatory approval, the study is planned to begin in the late 2015/early 2016 in sites in North America and Europe, and last five years.

The new funding will support three aspects of the API APOE4 trial:

• Tau PET imaging, amyloid PET imaging, and FDG-PET imaging at baseline and two-year follow-up in 125 participants each year to determine if the two treatments change tau PET measurements and are associated with a therapeutic benefit. Tau protein helps maintain normal cell structure. In people with Alzheimer’s, tau in the brain becomes abnormal and forms tangles, one of the characteristic features of Alzheimer’s.

• The expansion of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry, which provides information about Alzheimer’s prevention research and is intended to support enrollment in the APOE4 trial and other prevention trials.

• Evaluation of two remote genetic counseling approaches using telephone versus real-time videoconference counseling. This will include measuring the psychological, behavioral and cognitive effects of APOE genotype disclosure in people who underwent both types of genetic counseling.

“Because participation in the API APOE4 trial requires knowledge of one’s genetic status, we need to determine how to best communicate the genetic risk for developing Alzheimer’s as well as how to counsel individuals on what this risk means,” said Dr. Tariot.

In September 2013, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced an initial commitment of $33.2 million in partial support for the API APOE4 trial. In July 2014, BAI announced a partnership with Novartis, which is providing its two investigational treatments and financial support. In its NIH grant applications, BAI committed to obtaining $15 million in philanthropic and in kind contributions. To support the API APOE4 trial, $5 million has been obtained through donations to the Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation. The $10 million award from the Alzheimer’s Association, GHR Foundation and Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative completes Banner’s commitment for this trial.


Ladies fight: Women face higher risk for Alzheimer’s

Every 67 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is no longer considered another ailment of getting older, but rather an epidemic because of the staggering increase in Alzheimer’s diagnoses, particularly among women. Statistics show that one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease. With Baby Boomers aging, this number is estimated to rise to one in six women, compared with one in 11 men who will be affected by the disease. Alzheimer’s robs loved ones of their memories and eventually the capacity to function. It is just as detrimental to the individual with Alzheimer’s as to the family members who are left to take care of them.

The epidemic could be just as deadly to the healthcare system. If nothing is done before the impending influx of women who will be diagnosed with the disease in the upcoming years, “We risk bankrupting our current healthcare system,” said Jessica Langbaum, principal scientist at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix. “If we do nothing and maintain the status quo, we will not be able to handle the surge of patients with Alzheimer’s because we are not equipped for it now.”

Medical experts fear that the current healthcare system will cripple under the stress caring for the increasing number of people who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Already, the statistics show that women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than they are to develop breast cancer.

There are 78 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. Each day, about 10,000 of them turn 65, which is the at-risk age for being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The majority of them are women.
“We are already starting to see an increase in women with Alzheimer’s,” said Lori Whitesell, owner of SYNERGY Home Care.

This can only complicate the expenses and funds being paid by Medicare and Medicaid, which are already expected to be responsible for a $150 billion bill this year to treat patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The national cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia is projected to reach $214 billion within the next two years. As of right now, each family can expect to pay about $56,800 a year for a family member with Alzheimer’s, making it the most expensive disease in the country.

In 2011, President Barack Obama recognized the growing concern and signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). This project is designed to create and maintain an integrated national plan to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. The plan is to coordinate research and services across all of the federal agencies that are focusing their energy on the disease, as well as accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, cure or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.

“It’s a race to figure out what to do,” said Bob Roth, managing partner of Cypress HomeCare Solutions, “and, thankfully, everyone is working together.”
NAPA hopes to increase early detection and wants to be able to prevent and effectively treat the disease by 2025.

Alzheimer’s 10 warning signs

Despite the government’s efforts, it is only a matter of time before the epidemic of Alzheimer’s hits America. Out of the 5 million people who currently suffer from Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million are women. In Arizona alone, 11 percent of the seniors have Alzheimer’s. It is the fifth-leading cause of death in the state and it is estimated that in 2014 there will be a total of 120,000 seniors with Alzheimer’s in Arizona. It has been found that more senior citizens die from Alzheimer’s than prostate and breast cancer combined. Alzheimer’s disease is the only cause of death among the Top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

To compound the problem, there are currently not enough care facilities, hospitals or caregivers in the U.S. to help take care of the Baby Boomer generation, which is expected to raise the number of people with Alzheimer’s to 16 million people by 2025.

“The statistics that we have now are probably an underestimation because of the people that are trying to hide the fact that they have the disease,” said Roth, who is also on the board for the Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Roth said many senior citizens are either afraid of what will happen to them or they ignore the symptoms of the disease. Studies have shown that women tend to live longer than men and will be widowed or separated from their families for the last 10 to15 years of their lives, which severely limits the number of people who can help support them.

Not only is it hard to know what will happen in the near future with our healthcare system, but the disease itself is still very misunderstood. It is known that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. In the beginning stages, the memory loss is mild; however, as the illness advances to the later stages, the patient loses the ability to carry on a conversation as well as the loss of motor functions.

Scientists have yet to find the real cause of this disease, but they believe that it starts in the brain cells, also known as neurons. The brain has more than 100 billion neurons that connect with each other to form a communication network. Researchers think that Alzheimer’s is created by an amyloid plaque buildup between the neurons, which prevents the brain cells from working properly. This causes a breakdown of the brain’s communication system and the cells lose the ability to do their job. The cells eventually die and cause irreversible damage to the brain. As the neurons die, the entire brain shrinks from tissue loss. Due to the amount of brain damage, the average person with Alzheimer’s lives about eight years.

lower your risk Alzheimer’s

Currently, there are 10 million women in the U.S. who have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with the disease. Most caregivers are unpaid and work without any support. They usually have to give up their jobs because taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is a 24-hour-a-day job. There are two and a half times as many women providing intensive care for Alzheimer’s patients than men. Women who take on the role of full-time caregiver are strongly encouraged to use respite care so that they can get the breaks needed to be able to take care of themselves.

Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is the largest Alzheimer’s research facility in the country. It is recognized as a world leader in brain imaging research. It uses advanced brain imaging techniques that help researchers detect and track any brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s before memory loss and thinking issues arise. On Feb. 7, 2012, the Obama administration announced a historic investment of $156 million to Alzheimer’s research.

“We’re so grateful for the funds that Obama gave us, but we need more,” Langbaum said. ““It’s wonderful that the government has made (Alzheimer’s research) a priority, but a lot needs to happen before we can find a cure or a treatment by the deadline they have set in 2025. Right now, we don’t have the funds to do that.”


Flinn Awards $2M to Banner Alzheimer’s Institute

Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation, the philanthropic resource for Phoenix-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI), part of the nonprofit Banner Health, received $2 million in grant funding from the Flinn Foundation, a privately endowed, philanthropic grantmaking organization in Arizona.

Aligning with the Flinn Foundation’s mission to advance biosciences in the state, the grant is an investment in BAI’s groundbreaking Alzheimer’s prevention research. Specifically, the funds will support activities related to the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative. A global Alzheimer’s prevention research endeavor spearheaded by scientists and physicians at BAI, the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative has been described by the director of the National Institutes of Health as a “cornerstone in the national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease.”

“The Flinn Foundation is an invaluable part of the fabric of Arizona’s philanthropic community, investing in organizations and programs with a track record for advancing research, civic leadership, and arts and culture in our state,” noted Andy Kramer Petersen, president and CEO of Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation. “We are honored that they recognize the tremendous potential of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative and value the work being done at BAI.”

The $2 million grant to BAI is the latest in a decades-long philanthropic relationship between the Flinn Foundation and Banner Health. Prior funding supported an array of community outreach and pediatric health care programs, the most notable being Banner School-Based Health Centers, a program delivering primary health care services to children and adolescents throughout the greater Phoenix area who lack health insurance and access to regular care.

To learn more about BAI, the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative, and corresponding local and global research efforts, visit www.BannerAlz.org. For more information about giving opportunities, please call Banner Alzheimer’s Foundation at (602) 747-4483 (GIVE).