A FITTING CONTRIBUTION: From left, Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president; Jeff Morby, chairman and co-founder of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund; Henry McCance, co-founder of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund; Tanzi; and Merit Cudkowciz, MD, chief of MGH Neurology
An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding who is most susceptible is crucial to developing early detection models, effective therapies and possibly a cure. On Oct. 18, at a press conference in Cambridge, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund announced a fitting $5.4 million contribution to the MGH to fund state-of-the-art whole genome DNA sequencing that aims to enhance understanding of the genetic roots of Alzheimer’s.
“This research is searching for genetic factors that affect brain pathology and influence risk for getting the disease,” says Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, director of the Genetics and Aging Unit at the MGH, who will lead the project. “We are taking advantage of cutting-edge technology to discover how our genes determine susceptibility to Alzheimer’s disease and will use this knowledge to guide drug discovery efforts.”
Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, the study will obtain the complete genomic sequences of more than 1,500 individuals in families affected by Alzheimer’s, including data from more than 100 brain samples of individuals with varying degrees of Alzheimer’s pathology. The genomes of family members with the disease will be compared with those of unaffected family members to identify sites in the genome that influence risk. This is the first-ever whole genome sequencing project targeting Alzheimer’s disease based on family samples.
“We’re extremely grateful for the commitment of Cure Alzheimer’s Fund to this exciting project,” says Tanzi. “With their help we hope to significantly advance our understanding of this disease and perhaps one day create a road map toward treatment and a cure.”
Read more articles from the 10/26/12 Hotline issue.