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Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation Awards $1.9M in Grants for Diagnostic Research

NEW YORK — The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) said on Wednesday that it will provide as much as $1.9 million in funding to researchers from industry and academia advancing new diagnostic technologies for Alzheimer's disease.

ADDF said it has also partnered with Sage Bionetworks to establish an online repository for biomarker data generated by grant recipients, and that it has committed up to $1.3 million to support development of a mobile app for the early detection of memory problems.

The funding was awarded through ADDF's Diagnostic Accelerator, a partnership between the charity and various philanthropic partners, and follows $5.5 million awarded under the program in late 2019. 

In the latest round of grants, scientists from Rockefeller University will receive up to $320,000 to develop a blood test that detects changes in high molecular weight kininogen, a protein biomarker of Alzheimer's-associated vascular and inflammatory abnormalities; Hummingbird Diagnostics will receive up to $708,382 for a blood test that detects microRNA biomarkers of Alzheimer's progression; and a Hebrew University team will receive up to $500,000 to advance a blood test that detects brain-specific DNA that enters circulation only when brain cells die and is found at high levels in Alzheimer's patients.

Additionally, ADDF is contributing up to $402,000 to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health's Biomarkers Consortium in support of a project — called Plasma Abeta as a Predictor of Amyloid Positivity in Alzheimer's Disease — that is assessing the performance of six blood test platforms to determine which are best at predicting the presence of beta amyloid in the brain.

Sage's repository will be designed to store data from Diagnostics Accelerator-funded projects and facilitate its benchmarking, analysis, and sharing, ADDF said.

Sage will provide grant recipients training and support in using the repository, maintain the data to make it available to independent research groups, and develop metadata standards and application program interface documentation to facilitate interoperability and integration with other datasets and data platforms in the future.

The repository will also be used to evaluate ongoing Diagnostics Accelerator projects and develop algorithms to support them, ADDF said.

Cogstate's app adapts an established memory test for use on smartphones and tablets. The company will use the ADDF funding to validate its effectiveness among diverse populations.