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August 07, 2016

Penn Alzheimer's Disease Center gets $8.8 million in NIH renewal funding

Researchers will expand recruitment for clinical trials and further integrate bioinformatics databases

080716_MedicalFiles Source/Perelman School of Medicine

Medical files.

The National Institutes of Health has been awarded $8.8 million in new funding to the University of Pennsylvania's Alzheimer's Disease Core Center (ADCC) to advance research on the biology, diagnostics, treatment and strategies to deal with the debilitating neurodegenerative condition.

Penn was selected for renewal funding based on exceptional strides ADCC has made over the last 25 years, particularly in identifying critical factors in the development and progression of dementias associated with Parkinson's disease, Lewy Body dementia (LBD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).

“We are pleased to renew our support for the Penn ADCC so that it may continue contributing to our national effort to end the devastation wrought by Alzheimer’s and related dementias,” said Nina Silverberg, an Alzheimer's Disease Centers program director at the NIH's National Institute on Aging. “We are hopeful our support for the Penn ADC research program will lead to novel findings on the basic mechanisms involved in these diseases, and innovative new programs aimed at improving the lives of those living with dementia and their caregivers.”

In 2016, as many as 5.4 million Americans of all ages suffer from Alzheimer's Disease (AD), including about one in nine people over the age of 65. By 2050, a projected 13.8 million seniors will develop Alzheimer's — nearly triple today's total — barring advancements in prevention and treatment.

In the past, ADCC has been credited with discovering protein tau as the building block of neurofibrillary tangles within nerve cells, one of two lesion types known to cause Alzheimer's diseases. The second lesion type, beta-amyloid plaques, form around neurons and are the subject of an ongoing A4 research study at the Penn Memory Center and Drexel Neurosciences Institute.

ADCC is also credited with advancing new information about the pathology of Alzheimer's, defining biomarkers for early-stage AD, improving clinical trials, and increasing the diversity of study populations while clarifying important ethical questions about patients' genetic and diagnostic information.

“This funding will allow us to build on these successes,” said John Q. Trojanowski, who became Penn ADCC's founding director in 1991.

Most of the NIH funding will support ADCC's efforts to recruit, follow and study subjects with Alzheimer's Disease, emphasizing those at the earliest stages and members of the African-American population. The center will also further integrate its bioinformatics infrastructure as it continues to expand data banks containing biomatter and diagnostic study information.

Launched in 1984, NIH's Alzheimer's Disease Centers program now encompasses 29 collaborating ADC's that focus research, clinical trials and treatments.

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