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Mount Sinai, NYSCF receive NIH grant for Alzheimer's research
NEW YORK—A team of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in partnership with the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) and other organizations, have received a multi-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the study of Alzheimer's disease. By applying analytical methods to large-scale molecular, cellular and clinical data from Alzheimer's patients, the partners will seek to construct biological network models, learn more about the mechanisms of Alzheimer's and identify potential therapeutic targets. This award is one of several that make up the $45 million the NIH has announced it will dole out to advance the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, an initiative that seeks to identify effective interventions for the disease by 2025.
"We are delighted to support Dr. Schadt and his team in their important work of applying novel analytical methods to build models of this complex disorder," Dr. Neil Buckholtz, director of the Division of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging, said in a press release. "Additionally, this funding supports their computational approach investigating the repurposing of existing drugs as treatment for Alzheimer's—a key objective set forth in the Alzheimer's Plan."
Among the specific areas the team will be exploring is a network of genes identified earlier in 2013 as a key driver of Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease through its involvement in the inflammatory response in the brain. As a main source of data, Mount Sinai scientists will be studying gene expression in brains from the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center Brain Bank, which specializes in the earliest stages of the disease and is considered one of the best such resources globally.
Several cellular and animal models will be used to validate the activity of individual genes and molecular networks believed to drive Alzheimer's disease. A computational approach will also be used to determine if existing drugs, indicated for other conditions, are capable of affecting Alzheimer's networks and being repurposed to treat or prevent the disease.
"With this grant, we can continue to build and refine our predictive model of Alzheimer's disease to yield valuable insights into the complex mechanism of the disease and potential therapies. In the same way that sophisticated predictive mathematical models drive decision making in the global financial markets, our field of medical research has begun to rely on network models to derive meaning from vast amounts of patient data, enabling better understanding and treatment of human disease," commented Eric Schadt, Ph.D., Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology.
Schadt will be a principal investigator for this study, as will Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai. Scott Noggle, Ph.D., director of the NYSCF Laboratory and the NYSCF – Charles Evans Senior Research Fellow for Alzheimer's Disease, is another principal investigator. He and his team at NYSCF will be the lead stem cell partner for this work, generating stem cell lines from the samples of Alzheimer's patients and producing Alzheimer's neurons for use as a platform for validating drug targets.
"This research is of paramount importance. Currently, no effective disease-modifying or preventive drugs exist for common, late onset Alzheimer's disease," said Gandy. "Despite decades of intensive conventional research, the causal chain of mechanisms behind sporadic Alzheimer's disease has remained elusive. This multi-scale, computational strategy, combined with target validation in mouse brain, in fly brain and in stem cell models, is already providing clues to unanticipated pathways and new drug discovery opportunities."
SOURCE: Icahn School of Medicine press release