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Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Scholar Award
February 08, 2024
The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) and the Brain Health Medicines Center of Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland have granted ADDF-Harrington Scholar Awards to two Principal Investigators, Paul Tesar, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University, and Donald F. Weaver, MD, PhD, of University Health Network’s Krembil Research Institute. Dr. Tesar and Dr. Weaver will receive funding and therapeutic development guidance from a team of industry experts to help advance their research towards novel therapies for patients. Both scientists are eligible to receive up to $600,000 in funding for their work.
Now commemorating its ninth class of scholars, the ADDF-Harrington partnership accelerates the translation of innovative academic research into medicines that will treat, prevent, or slow Alzheimer's disease. The research is centered around novel targets guided by the biology of aging that address the many underlying pathologies linked to Alzheimer’s.
“This award supports leading-edge researchers who have identified novel targets that show promise in helping build out the arsenal of Alzheimer’s therapeutics necessary to tackle the disease with a combination therapy and precision medicine approach,” says Howard Fillit, MD, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer at the ADDF. “With the financial support and expert guidance in drug development provided with this award, innovative academic research like Dr. Tesar and Dr. Weaver’s can move beyond the laboratory and closer to clinical trials.”
Recent studies have found that non-neuronal reactive glial cells are a major contributor of neurodegeneration and disease progression among Alzheimer’s patients, and Dr. Tesar has shown that these toxic glia are a promising cellular therapeutic target for the disease. He intends to advance new medicines that block formation of toxic reactive glia to protect neurons and protect patients from cognitive decline.
Dr. Weaver and his colleagues demonstrated that a channel protein called TRPM2 drives neuroinflammation, which is a major catalyst for neurodegeneration among patients with Alzheimer’s. They then identified a novel class of small molecules that inhibit TRPM2 and intends to develop them into safe and effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
“Drs. Tesar and Weaver are outstandingly innovative and rigorous scientists who share our Center’s commitment to developing novel treatments to improve the lives of patients with Alzheimer’s. Their projects demonstrate exciting new targets with strong data. We are very pleased to be able to support their important work,” said Andrew A. Pieper, MD, PhD, Director of the Center for Brain Health Medicines at Harrington Discovery Institute, Morley Mather Chair in Neuropsychiatry at University Hospitals and Rebecca Barchas, MD Chair in Translational Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Tesar and Dr. Weaver were selected through an international call for cutting-edge science showing potential to advance rapidly into clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease.