The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation has announced grants totaling $3.5 million for the development of diagnostic tools and biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
The first round of grants awarded through the foundation's Diagnostics Accelerator will support four projects targeting biomarkers in the blood, eyes, and other peripheral fluids and tissues. Selected from nearly three hundred applicants from thirty countries, the grant recipients include Saliha Moussaoui (Amoneta Diagnostics, France), who will receive up to $2 million for a proposed test designed to measure two kinds of ribonucleic acids that are stable in the blood and show promise in early detection of Alzheimer's disease, and Kaj Blennow (University of Gothenburg, Sweden), who was awarded $500,000 to develop an ultra-sensitive blood test for brain-specific tau. In addition, Tom MacGillivray (University of Edinburgh, Scotland) will receive $488,997 for a study that employs a novel combination of retinal biomarkers that capture neurodegeneration and vasculature dysfunction often found in Alzheimer's disease with advanced imaging analyses, while Peter van Wijngaarden (Centre for Eye Research Australia) was awarded $420,321 to test a simplified, inexpensive eye scan that can detect amyloid in the retina prior to signs of cognitive decline.
A venture philanthropy vehicle launched in 2018 with support from Bill Gates, ADDF co-founder Leonard Lauder, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos, and other philanthropists, the Diagnostics Accelerator plans to award up to $50 million in grants over the next three years. At least ten grants totaling as much as $10 million will be awarded in 2019, including a second round of grants, to be announced at the end of the year, focused on digital tests.
"We are thrilled to announce the first round of awards of the Diagnostics Accelerator initiative," said ADDF founding executive director and chief science officer Howard Fillit. "After an extensive review, we selected research that showed promise in accelerating the development of innovative diagnostic tools, such as blood tests and eye scans. Unlike heart d'isease and cancer, we lack simple and cost-effective diagnostic tools and biomarkers that are critical to finding ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease. Once we have them, we will better understand how Alzheimer's progresses and make clinical drug trials more efficient and rigorous."