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How Philanthropy Fuels Treatments for Alzheimer’s disease

Posted on December 15, 2023 in Center for Brain Health Medicines

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Scientists worldwide are working with Harrington Discovery Institute on diverse therapeutic approaches to treat and hopefully cure Alzheimer's disease (AD). As patients and their families look to be part of the solution through their charitable donations, philanthropy, in particular, has played a critical role in advancing medical discoveries. Here’s how:

  • Philanthropy often provides seed funding for early-stage and innovative research projects. This initial funding can help researchers target new pathways that may not yet be eligible for traditional funding sources.
  • Some philanthropic initiatives focus on supporting high-risk, high-reward projects that may have a transformative impact. These projects may be deemed too uncertain for government funding or traditional research grants.
  • Philanthropy can fill funding gaps that may arise during the different phases of drug development. For example, it can provide bridge funding to sustain research efforts between the discovery phase and clinical trials.
  • Philanthropy can support research on diseases where treatments are severely lacking, such as rare diseases or conditions affecting marginalized populations.

Philanthropic support enables collaborative efforts among researchers, healthcare professionals, and institutions to accelerate the development of new treatments for AD. The impact of philanthropy on Alzheimer's research is far-reaching, fostering breakthroughs in understanding the disease's underlying mechanisms, identifying potential therapies, and conducting clinical trials.

Here at Harrington Discovery Institute, one of our promising AD projects is from Donald Weaver, MD, PhD, FRCP (C), University Health Network, who is a 2020 Harrington Scholar-Innovator and 2022 ADDF-Harrington Scholar. Dr. Weaver is taking a unique approach to developing AD therapeutics. While traditional efforts focused on beta-amyloid and tau proteins, his team is targeting brain inflammation as a potential cause of AD. They've identified two therapeutic targets, IDO and FBP, which mediate the neurotoxic effects of inflammation. Furosemide, traditionally a diuretic, is used to target FBP. The hypothesis is that inhibiting these receptors will reduce the release of inflammatory cytokines, offering a novel approach to AD treatment.

“We hope that our work leads to a drug that is part of the cure, complementary to other approaches,” Dr. Weaver says. “When you consider that there are many medications for a condition as simple as high blood pressure, it becomes obvious that for AD, a complex disease in the most complex part of the body, one day there will be not one, but numerous therapeutic answers.”

Understanding the disease, mitigating risk factors, seeking timely diagnosis, accessing support services, and advancing research through philanthropy are essential components in addressing this complex landscape. By coming together to advocate, support, and drive research efforts, we can strive towards better outcomes and eventual breakthroughs in the fight against Alzheimer's disease.

About the Scholar

Donald Weaver

Neuroscience, Oncology

Donald Weaver, MD, PhD, FRCP(C)

University Health Network
Harrington Scholar-Innovator

More about Donald Weaver

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Philanthropy Can Advance Treatments in Alzheimer’s Disease

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