$7M Grant For Alzheimer’s Research
1 September 2016 at 11:38 am
A major grant of more than $7 million to help Alzheimer’s research, coinciding with the start of Dementia Awareness Month in Australia, could “unlock the door” to new medicines.
Monash University announced on Wednesday that leading international medical research funding organisation The Wellcome Trust had awarded them £4.2 million (A$7.1 million) towards funding research into treatments for Alzheimer’s and other debilitating neurodegenerative diseases.
The funding will help researchers at Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) to pursue research aimed at producing more effective, side-effect-free treatments for diseases including Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
The grant will also underpin a major collaboration between Professors Patrick Sexton and Arthur Christopoulos at Monash with Professor Andrew Tobin in the Centre for Translational Pharmacology at the University of Glasgow.
Sexton said the funding would enable new research on a family of drug targets called G protein-coupled receptors, or GPCRs.
“GPCRs are well-known to be involved in most human diseases, but many current drug discovery efforts targeting these proteins show alarming failure rates in translating promising preclinical findings to the clinic and onto the market,” Sexton said.
“If we could understand key mechanisms underlying this preclinical-to-clinical translational gap, we would be able to unlock the door to many new medicines.”
The grant will enable world-leading scientists to come together to investigate which molecular features distinguish drugs that act effectively on GPCRs from those that don’t.
Christopoulos said the research would specifically focus on the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, a GPCR family involved in memory deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
“Our research suggests that some of the major drivers underlying the failure to translate preclinical GPCR discoveries into the clinic is not because the wrong target has been chosen but, rather, that the wrong approach has been used towards exploiting that target,” Christopoulos said.
“We have discovered that there are far more subtle and innovative ways of selectively targeting GPCRs than most current approaches. These approaches have the potential to yield better drug candidates with a higher chance of clinical efficacy, as well as a reduced propensity for side effects.
“Through the award of this grant, we aim to use our studies of the muscarinic receptor family as a proof of concept that can subsequently be applied to other receptors and disease states.”