Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) has received a grant expected to total $27.5 million over five years from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to further investigate biological and cognitive changes preceding the onset of memory and thinking problems in people at different levels of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Led by researchers from Banner and Mayo Clinic in Arizona, the five-year grant will study healthy people with six forms of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, create a shared scientific resource of data and biological samples to support a wide range of future studies, and help to advance the understanding, treatment, and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
The new longitudinal study will follow 300 cognitively unimpaired people aged 50-90 who are at six levels of risk due to their APOE genes, including those with two copies of APOE4, who have the highest Alzheimer’s risk and those with two copies of APOE2, who have the lowest risk. Research participants will have PET, MRI, spinal fluid and emerging blood tests, as well as other assessments to address a wide range of important scientific questions.
“We are grateful to the NIA for their continued support of our efforts to advance the study and prevention of Alzheimer’s,” said Eric M. Reiman, MD, the executive director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and one of the grant’s principal investigators. “The new grant will allow us to address several critically important questions and support our chance to find effective disease-stopping and prevention therapies within the next five years.”
The study is intended to help clarify how genetic and non-genetic risk factors contribute to a person’s Alzheimer’s risk and to help discover some of the factors that protect people from developing Alzheimer’s at older ages despite their genetic risk. It will also improve the design and analysis of Alzheimer’s prevention trials, some of which are already underway, to find effective prevention therapies as quickly as possible.
“For more than two decades our Arizona team has leveraged a common genetic risk factor, APOE4, that has allowed us to identify some of the earliest biological and cognitive changes in cognitively unimpaired people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Our findings have had a major impact on the field,” said Richard Caselli, MD, Professor of Neurology and Mildred A. and Henry Uihlein II Professor of Medical Research at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and one of the grant’s other principal investigators. “This grant will allow us to have an even greater impact by allowing us to study people at all six levels of APOE risk, include a full range of established and developing biomarkers in our research, and continue to share our resources with other scientists.”
Participants will be recruited via multiple venues, including the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry led by BAI (www.endALZnow.org) that connects interested members with relevant Alzheimer’s-focused studies in their local area.
Funding for this grant was provided by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01AG069453.