Groundbreaking research on a devastating neurological disorder – Alzheimer’s disease – will reach the fast track in the Program for Neurology Research & Development this year, thanks to matching $250,000 gifts from the Sinai Medical Staff Foundation and the Richard & Jane Manoogian Foundation.
“I cannot overstate the importance of generous gifts like these in advancing the cause of medical science,” said PNR&D Director Eva L. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D. “Often times the NIH shies away from funding high-risk research despite its potential to yield high rewards. It is crucial that private philanthropy get the ball rolling on this important work, and that is exactly what these two forward-looking foundations have accomplished.”
The gifts, which will be distributed over five years, will support stem-cell work under way in the Program for Neurology Research & Development. Dr. Feldman is well into Phase 2 of a clinical trial that is testing the effectiveness of stem cells in ALS patients. Phase 1 results were published in March and showed that humans tolerated the stem cell injections well. The PNR&D has already begun adapting its ALS stem cell work to learning more about Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans, two-thirds of whom are women, and the emotional toll it exacts on family members and loved ones is immeasurable. The direct cost of caring for sufferers of Alzheimer’s will total $214 billion in 2014, and the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 15.5 million family members and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to dementia patients – care valued at an additional $220 billion.
“We have made tremendous progress in stem-cell research, particularly in the area of ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease,” Dr. Feldman said. “Because of what we’ve learned from our human clinical trial for ALS, we are now able to translate those techniques and direct our attention to another devastating neurological disorder: Alzheimer’s.”