Another Step in the Long March Against Alzheimer's

We've been following GHR Foundation's expansion into Alzheimer’s research for some time now, since it committed $17 million to several multi-year projects targeting prevention of the dementia-causing disease. Alzheimer's is at the forefront of GHR's strategy to expand into science and health research, on top of its 50-year history of support for communities and entrepreneurship.

One of GHR's Alzheimer's projects is the DIAN-TU research study, currently headquartered at Washington University School of Medicine, which is testing prevention therapies among people with the bad genetic luck that strongly predisposes them to develop the disease, likely at an early age. By studying people genetically destined to develop Alzheimer’s, the DIAN investigators can also learn about the majority of people whose disease develops later in life.  

DIAN-TU investigators recently reached an important milestone:They've completed participant enrollment for the first stage of the trial to study two potential drug treatments to prevent the disease from taking root. It's the first global trial to enroll participants with dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s, and is operating at 24 sites in seven countries. 

Today, Alzheimer's can't be cured, nor can doctors substantially slow or reverse the course of its dementia. These factors led GHR to focus on research to prevent the disease before onset, an approach that some experts say may be medicine's first and best bet. GHR is working in partnership with other philanthropic groups, as well as industry and the NIH.

Related: Nimble and Strategic: How a Small Funder Aims for a Big Impact on Alzheimer's 

DIAN-TU (it stands for Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer's Network Trial) is investigating drugs targeting the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, which some scientists believe are the disease's first step in memory and cognitive impairment. The investigated drugs are Lilly’s solanezumab, and Roche’s gantenerumab, which lower levels of the substance that forms the plaques.

Alzheimer's is currently the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the most costly health condition. Those statistics could worsen as the county's elderly population grows, should we fail to develop effective methods of treatment and prevention.