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Consortium Receives $5M for Genomics-based Neurodegenerative Disease Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Neurodegeneration Consortium this week said that it has received a commitment of $5 million from the Huffington Foundation to help fund the consortium's genomics-based work in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

The gift will go toward NDC's research using genomic technology to identify new molecular targets to treat neurodegenerative diseases. NDC collaborators are inhibiting and interrogating thousands of genes, one at a time, in order to identify those that may decrease the levels of proteins that cause disease.

NDC was created in the fall with a $25 million challenge gift from the Robert A. and Renee E. Belfer Family Foundation to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The $25 million gift is contingent on the consortium partners raising a matching $25 million in private philanthropy. To date, the consortium has raised more than $15 million in matching contributions, led by the Huffington Foundation, MD Anderson said.

Work being carried out by NDC collaborators include a project by Baylor's Huda Zoghbi and colleagues who are conducting high-throughput screens in three model systems — human cells, fruit flies, and transgenic mice — to integrate information with data from the human genome in order to identify potential targets for new therapies.

Also, MD Anderson's Institute for Applied Cancer Science's Ming-Kuei Jang and Philip Jones are researching innate protective mechanisms that promote health neurons after injury and aging.

Another project being evaluated targets the development of diagnostic tools for the early detection of neurodegenerative disease before symptoms are evident, and for determining response to new therapies, MD Anderson said.