Alzheimer's Disease Cured! ...Wouldn't this be a wonderful headline?
The year that NEAR was founded also marked the 100th year anniversary since Alois Alzheimer first encountered the now-famous Alzheimer’s disease in a 51 year old woman. At NEAR, we are of the mindset that “Isn’t over 100 years of Alzheimer’s enough?”
Perhaps you are acquainted with someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. If so, then you already know firsthand the enormous human cost of brain disease. Whether or not you have been personally exposed to Alzheimer’s, you are probably aware that it is one of the top ten causes of death in the USA and millions of people have already fallen victim to this disease. While the human cost is terrible, the social and economic cost is also staggering – in fact, without a rapid solution, the financial burden of dementia is projected to bankrupt the current health care system within our lifetimes, which will affect all Americans both young and old.
The World Alzheimer Report projects that at current rates of growth, the number of people living worldwide with Alzheimer's will grow to over 100 million by 2050. According to the World Health Organization, in the absence of a cure, Alzheimer's disease will surpass cancer, AIDS, and all cardiovascular diseases in prevalence. Despite this worrisome fact, Alzheimer's remains significantly underfunded compared to these other diseases. In 2010 alone, the global cost of Alzheimer's is conservatively estimated at over 600 billion dollars, which means that the amount of money spent annually on research is far less than 1% of the overall costs to society.
The National Endowment for Alzheimer's Research (NEAR) was incorporated in 2001 as a public charity and non-profit medical research organization, in order to undertake applied scientific research on Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Our mission is to investigate the underlying causes of Alzheimer's and to develop rapid clinical interventions both for Alzheimer's and other brain disorders.
A secondary mission is to promote public awareness and education with respect to Alzheimer's disease and related dementia, and to encourage the involvement of individuals, businesses, foundations, and government in finding a cure.
NEAR has adopted a corporate logo which represents our organizational vision and mission statement. The NEAR icon represents the race for enlightenment in the face of darkness, and suggests that a cure for dementia is attainable in our lifetime. It symbolizes our core belief that no matter how dark the night, the sun will rise and darkness will be gone. Or as the poet-philosopher Thoreau once wrote: "There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star." Our basic ideals are enlightenment, hope, and scientific truth, along with a belief that through our work, "the cure for Alzheimer's is NEAR."
WHAT DOES NEAR DO?
NEAR is the only non-profit organization in the world to concentrate on developing gene transfer as a method of both modeling this disorder in the laboratory, as well as treating it in the clinic. By looking at the manner in which genes interact in Alzheimer's patients and also in unaffected people, we believe that new drug development and gene therapy will bring new cures and new hope for those suffering from Alzheimer's. Because targeted genetic drugs are the key to a cure for Alzheimer's, we support unfettered access to genetic materials for researchers and self-determination for patients over their own genes.
Our team has a proven track record of clinical innovation and even before our founding, members of our team were the first group in history to deliver a gene to the human brain for a rare neurodegenerative disorder, Canavan disease. On the other hand, gene therapy for Alzheimer's has very limited clinical history thus far, for complex reasons.
Among the various genetic approaches, one in particular stands out and was pioneered by Japanese researcher Dr. Takaomi Saido, involving metalloproteinase enzymes to degrade synaptic, intracellular, or extracellular amyloid beta deposits. It is this goal, amyloid degradation, which has been adopted by NEAR as a primary therapeutic approach to Alzheimer's, though we are looking at a number of complimentary targets as well. The image at the top of our web site is an example of a mouse neuron, with axon and dendrites clearly visible, which was treated using new delivery methods with a foreign gene in the memory portion of the brain, which illustrates the power of the approach.
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT? NEAR is unique in that rather than outsourcing our protocols, we are ourselves developing the latest genetic approaches to treatment of Alzheimer's disease. One of the key unsolved problems in current Alzheimer's research includes specific targeting of affected pathology in the memory structures of the brain, and we are the only independent non-profit group in the world which is specifically addressing this key issue in translational research.
Before optimal gene therapy can be brought to the clinic, NEAR is examining molecular and genetic causes of Alzheimer's that have not been adequately addressed to date while also pioneering minimally invasive delivery techniques. Some of the most exciting work at this time is the interface between gene therapy and cellular restorative therapies, and NEAR is committed to the ethical use of the latest cellular technologies in pursuit of a cure for Alzheimer's and related conditions.
We are also the only group with a concrete clinical plan to cure Alzheimer's, with a leadership which has already directed an NIH-sponsored clinical trial for neurodegenerative disease and which has firsthand experience in translational gene medicine.
Alzheimer's patient with NEAR staff.
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY BOARD
We are pleased to announce and welcome several distinguished researchers to the NEAR Scientific Advisory Board, who share NEAR's vision and ongoing commitment to finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Their proven expertise in genetic research and neuroscience as well as their commitment to serve is heartening to all of us who have lost a loved one to this dreaded disease.
Paola Leone, Ph.D.
As the principal investigator of the NIH-funded study “Gene Therapy for Canavan Disease,” Dr. Leone was the first scientist in the world to deliver gene therapy to the brain for a neurodegenerative disorder. She has also served as scientific advisor to “Gene Therapy for Batten Disease” and other ongoing clinical studies.
Sidney Pestka, M.D.
Dr. Pestka is a world leader in structural genetics who was part of Dr. Marshall Nirenberg's team at NIH which first cracked the genetic code, for which a Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded in 1968. He received the National Medal of Technology from President Bush in 2001 for his many discoveries in biochemistry and genetic engineering.
Richard Jude Samulski, Ph.D.
Dr. Samulski is one of the original pioneers in use of viral vectors for gene therapy, and has many years of experience in the design and clinical use of gene therapy vectors. He is the founding director of Asklepios BioPharmaceuticals and sits on a number of scientific advisory panels, including advising Ceregene on their Alzheimer's AAV-NGF gene therapy clinical trial.
PLEASE MAKE A DONATION!
As a recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization, all donations to NEAR are fully tax-deductible. NEAR welcomes all contributions, both from individuals and institutional sponsors, which will allow us to continue our mission of fighting Alzheimer's disease.
To make a tax-deductible personal donation to NEAR, please send your check or money order to the contact address below. If you are a prospective corporate sponsor, or an individual who would like to make a bequest or in-kind donation, please contact the director at the same address. You may also donate through the United Way's "Donor Choice" program.
Once again, we thank you for your support in conquering Alzheimer's disease...with your help, we believe that a cure is NEAR!
NEAR MAJOR SPONSORS
Cell & Gene Therapy Center
Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC)
Daniel C. & Delia F. Grant
International Scientific Communications
The Publications Group, Inc.
The Home Depot
Wells Fargo Bank
Work Life Matters
For more information on our scientific activities or other NEAR initiatives, or to make a donation, please contact our mailing address below. For general questions, please contact our office via email. If you wish to speak to someone personally, please leave a message with your contact information and someone will get back to you shortly, usually within 24 hours.
N.E.A.R.40 East Main StreetSuite #102 Newark, DE 19711