GAINESVILLE, FL — Stop Alzheimer’s Now, a non-profit organization founded by Shaun McDuffee in 2013, recently contributed $100,000 to the University of Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, establishing the Stop Alzheimer’s Now Research Fund.
Stop Alzheimer’s Now (SAN) has committed to walking across all 50 states to raise awareness and funds for research for a cure. To date, SAN has walked nearly 750 miles and raised over $235,000 through individual contributions and partnerships with organizations such as the Scott Richards North Star Charitable Foundation, and the McDuffee Family Foundation.
The donation to UF will help support studies that are designed to lead to a new therapeutic approach to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The studies will be led by Dr. Todd Golde, a professor of Neuroscience and Director of both the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida and the NIH funded 1Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Dr. Golde and colleagues are breaking new ground by developing ways to both evaluate and deliver novel combinatorial therapies aimed at reversing the numerous pathologies present in the brain of a patient with symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease.
Though Dr. Golde and his colleagues remain cautiously optimistic that therapies currently in the clinic will have a big impact on Alzheimer’s disease if the therapy is initiated before symptoms start, they worry that once patients become symptomatic the brain is so damaged that such “trigger targeting” therapies will have only modest effects.
Dr. Golde explains: “By the time one shows symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, an individual is essentially in brain organ failure. The underlying pathologies have been there for a decade or more. So its simplistic, and probably unrealistic, to think that a single therapy, especially those targeting a single underlying problem, which are sometimes referred to as a magic bullet approach, might have a huge clinical impact. With funding from SAN we hope to begin to build the road map for combinatorial therapies designed to simultaneously alter multiple underlying deficits in the Alzheimer’s brain.”
Currently, there really is no clear path forward to develop a therapeutic cocktail for Alzheimer’s disease or virtually any other disorder. Yet, there is ample evidence from other disease that a combinatorial approach might have a much bigger impact on disease. However, in most cases where combinatorial therapies are routinely used, the individual agents show enough efficacy on their own to be approved for use, and only later is a combination of two approved drugs is tested and shown to be better. Thus, development of combinatorial therapies often takes many decades. “If we sit back and wait for this to happen in AD, we might be waiting a long, long time, and to me that is ethically unacceptable. We need a way to develop combinatorial and move them forward faster. We are in the midst of an AD epidemic, and we need to develop therapies that have a big impact on symptomatic disease. We know this is hard but we think can rationally develop ways to do this,” says Dr. Golde.