Two BUSM Faculty Receive Alzheimer’s disease Grants

in Uncategorized
July 11th, 2013

David Harris, MD, PhD, chair and professor of biochemistry and Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics and neurology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), have received Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium (MNC) Awards. Each will receive a $250,000 grant allowing their teams to explore new therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s disease.

Harris is developing a novel approach to the therapy of Alzheimer’s disease based on targeting a newly recognized molecular pathway responsible for neurodegeneration. Based on this approach, drug compounds have the potential to overcome some of the limitations of existing medications. Current treatments are largely ineffective and do not halt the cognitive decline associated with the disease.

David Harris, MD, PhD

David Harris, MD, PhD

“This award will significantly enhance our ability to develop improved therapies for Alzheimer’s disease by allowing us to interact with industry partners, which is an important element of drug development,” said Harris.

Harris’ laboratory at BUSM investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying two classes of human neurodegenerative disorders: prion diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. Prion and Alzheimer’s diseases are part of a larger group of neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and several other diseases.

Wolozin is developing compounds that inhibit aggregation and toxicity caused by TDP-43, a protein that forms aggregates in Alzheimer’s disease as well as other diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. His research investigates the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that cause diseases of brain aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

“This grant emphasizes the importance of collaboration between BUSM and development programs at major pharmaceutical companies in the Boston area,” said Wolozin.

Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD

Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD

Principal Investigator of the project, Wolozin is working with Marcie Glicksman, PhD, and Kevin Hodgetts, PhD, co-directors of the Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration (LDDN) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The teams will divide the work between biology and chemistry.

MNC comprises six pharmaceutical companies that have joined together to identify new targets in neuroscience. Unique for its proposed short-term, results-oriented projects, the consortium funds research of an array of diseases in an attempt to bring patients and their families closer to a cure for certain neurodegenerative diseases.