Good Ventures awarded a grant of $1,100,000 to Massachusetts General Hospital to support research led by Professors Rudolph Tanzi and Robert Moir into Alzheimer's disease (AD). This grant will go towards following up on findings the professors published in a recent paper related to AD, which they currently don't have the funds to pursue.
These findings include the discovery that beta-amyloid (Amyloid-β), the protein most associated with Alzheimer’s, is a natural antibiotic which protects the brain from infection. The research also showed signs of the presence of Amyloid-β-entrapped microbes in brain plaques as part of an immune response to protect the brain. This research raises the question of whether a real or perceived infection is responsible for some aspects of AD.
One study Professors Tanzi and Moir intend to undertake will involve taking and sequencing samples from human cadaver brains (some with and some without AD), to determine which, if any, microbes are present in the brains at the time of death. The study will also look for AD-associated genes in the human DNA to see if the presence or absence of certain genes is correlated with disease progression. We see this as promising work that might help reduce the future burden of Alzheimer's disease.