The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, has announced that it will receive $19.2 million over eight years from the American Heart Association-Allen Initiative in Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment to investigate mechanisms underlying Alzheimer's disease and aging-related cognitive decline.
Led by Salk Institute president Rusty Gage, a team of ten researchers will analyze interactions in five areas key to brain health: proteins, genes, metabolism, inflammation, and epigenetics. By studying the networks that keep brains healthy, the team will work to reveal new targets for therapeutic research as well as biomarkers of early-stage cognitive decline. To that end, Salk Institute researchers will apply machine-learning algorithms to diverse datasets to develop new methods for studying aging and diseased neurons and other brain cells and identify cell types and biological pathways that are most critical in brain aging.
According to a 2012 report from the World Health Organization, the number of people with dementia is expected to top 65 million by 2030 and is likely to exceed 115 million by 2050. To date, there are no effective treatments for Alzheimer's.
"At the Salk Institute, we have devised a completely new way of approaching Alzheimer's and aging research," said Gage, who holds the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease. "With the generous support of the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group, the American Heart Association, and other philanthropic donors to this initiative, we believe we can make significant progress in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's and other age-related cognitive diseases."