The Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium includes more than 40 research studies per year, almost all of which involve collaborations among different scientific disciplines and about half of which involves collaborations among the state’s participating institutions. It also includes numerous independently funded studies.
Consortium researchers continue to make pioneering contributions to scientific understanding, early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease and to the discovery and evaluation of promising disease-slowing and prevention therapies.
- Consortium researchers have discovered some of the molecular mechanisms, physiological processes and risk factors that appear to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, providing targets at which to aim new treatments. For instance, they have suggested how brain inflammation, cholesterol, vascular disease and soluble amyloid contribute to Alzheimer’s pathology, they have suggested promising new ways to treat and prevent the disorder, and they have begun to develop several promising immunization therapies.
- They have used powerful brain imaging techniques in the unusually early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease-some of which are apparent in young adults almost 50 years before the onset of memory and thinking problems; and they have shown how these techniques can be used to evaluate promising disease-slowing and prevention therapies in the shortest possible time.
- They have made significant progress in the understanding of how brain cells, brain regions and mental operations work together to orchestrate memory and other thinking abilities and how they are preferentially affected by normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease, and they are using this information in the discovery of promising new treatments.
- Using powerful genetics tools, they have recently discovered genes that account for individual differences in normal human memory, providing targets at which to aim memory-enhancing treatments, and they have begun to test some of these promising treatments in aged rats. They are using the same tools to identify several of the genes that contribute to about 80% of Alzheimer’s risk.
- They have begun to address the greatest impediment to the identification of effective Alzheimer’s disease-slowing and prevention therapies. Thus, they have begun to develop an extremely productive Alzheimer’s disease clinical therapeutics program, with the goal of eventually enrolling 1000 patients and 1000 APOE-genotyped healthy volunteers in clinical trials each year. They have also established the brain imaging infrastructure needed to perform entire proof-of-concept studies of promising disease-slowing treatments every two years and promising primary prevention therapies every three years. In this way, the researchers intend to find effective disease-slowing and prevention therapies within the next 12 years.
- They have developed powerful new research strategies and methods for each of these scientific endeavors.
They have proposed a prevention trial that, if the treatment works, could provide the chance to find and approve an effective prevention therapy by 2023 and to establish the surrogate endpoints needed to rapidly test and support the approval and availability of prevention therapies in almost everyone who, based on their biological tests or genetic background, is at risk for AD.