NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has committed $6 million in fiscal 2017 to fund research into the effects of Alzheimer's disease-associated genetic variants on neural cell biology, in order to improve the overall understanding of the molecular causes of the disease.
While genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and sequencing efforts such as the Alzheimer's Disease Sequencing Project have identified several genetic variants — in both coding and non-coding regions of the genome — that contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk, functional validation of these risk loci is required to confirm the roles they play, according to the NIH.
To that end, the agency has earmarked $6 million in grant funding to support seven to nine projects that will use human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSCs) or directly reprogrammed neural cells to establish the function of Alzheimer's disease risk variants found in previous GWAS and sequencing studies.
Areas of research of interest to the NIH include studying the synergistic effects of multiple variants by multiplexed genomic editing of hIPSCs; defining the genetic and molecular phenotypes of genetic variants in different neural cell types that have been generated by the direct programming of human cells; assessing genotype/phenotype relationships of genetic variants in response to cell stressors; and generating an integrated human cell-based genetic and molecular pathway model of genetic variant function in neurons and glial cells.
Such studies, the NIH said, are expected to give greater insight into molecular targets contributing to the etiology of Alzheimer's disease. Additional details about the funding opportunity can be found here.