Five investigators who focus the development of Alzheimer’s disease in people with Down syndrome (DS) have won a combined $1.2 million in research grants from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome.

The organizations are awarding the funding through a new joint grants initiative, “Understanding the Development and Devising Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease in Individuals with Down Syndrome.”

Three winners are senior investigators who will each be awarded a grant of $300,000:

  • Karen T. Chang, Ph.D., University of Southern California—Functional protein interactions in Alzheimer’s disease and DS.
  • Ann-Charlotte E. Granholm-Bentley, D.D.S., Ph.D., Medical University of South Carolina—Brain-derived neurotropic factor and executive dysfunction in DS.
  • Huaxi Xu, Ph.D., Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute—Roles of miR-155/C/EBPß/SNX27 pathway in Alzheimer’s disease/DS.

The other two winners are new investigators who will each receive a grant of $150,000:

  • Eitan Okun, Ph.D., Bar-Ilan University—Developing a DNA vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease in patients with DS.
  • Donna M. Wilcock, Ph.D., University of Kentucky Research Foundation—Inflammatory biomarkers to predict transition to dementia in DS.

The five were among more than 50 applicants worldwide who submitted applications in response to a formal request. Peer reviewers from the Alzheimer’s Association evaluated the applications, with input from the Crnic Institute.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is very interested in understanding why people with Down syndrome are at such high risk for Alzheimer’s, and how it relates to other variations of the disease, so that we can identify new therapies to treat Alzheimer’s in both the Down syndrome and typical populations,” Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association vp of medical and scientific relations, said in a statement. “Research in this population may also help us develop predictive tools for Alzheimer’s and design more effective clinical trials.” 

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