NEW YORK, Oct. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — CurePSP has awarded $300,000 in grants to four studies in the closely related diseases progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). The investigations will explore genetic influences, the role of specific strains of the tau protein, and changes in the brain at the cellular level.
PSP and CBD are neurological disorders that are marked by major disturbances in movement, vision, speech, swallowing, sleep, cognition, and behavior. They are currently incurable and largely untreatable. While rare, they share pathology at a critical, molecular level with more common conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicts some six million Americans, and with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), another major public health concern. PSP is a key target of researchers and pharmaceutical companies seeking treatment and cure for the more prevalent forms of neurodegeneration. Like PSP, these diseases are characterized by the pathological misfolding and clumping of the tau protein, a normally occurring protein in the brain.
Applications for CurePSP’s Venture Grants—so named because they provide seed funding for promising new research directions, mostly by early career researchers—are reviewed twice a year by CurePSP’s independent Scientific Advisory Board, an international group of leading scientists from academia and industry.
Kristophe J. Diaz, PhD, Vice President – Scientific Affairs for CurePSP, said, “We had an unprecedented level of quality in our applications this round. I think this shows a sharply increased interest in research into these diseases. Our grant reviewers were challenged to pick the best of the best, and we are pleased with their recommendations.”
Reuben Das, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, will use molecular and gene editing techniques in human cell lines and animal models to study the effect on the tau protein of a variant in a genetic regulatory region that was recently discovered to be associated with PSP. His findings could help to advance potential gene therapy for PSP.
Amanda L. Woerman, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts Amherst will investigate specific tau strains associated with PSP and CBD. The strains’ different patterns of misfolding may offer clues to the development of sensitive diagnostic tests and precisely targeted tau-based treatment.
Geidy E. Serrano, PhD, of the Banner Sun Health Research Institute (Sun City, AZ) will use a new technique to study the molecular signatures of single cells of multiple types isolated from different regions of human brains affected by PSP and Alzheimer’s disease. She hopes to identify biochemical pathways that will offer new targets for drugs.
John M. Ringman, PhD, of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, will sequence and study the genome of afflicted and healthy members of a large family with a rare, genetic form PSP. This study may identify a novel PSP-causing gene that may be at work in a more subtle form even in the majority of PSP that is nonfamilial. Those insights could be relevant to other neurodegenerative disorders as well.
CurePSP’s application deadline for its next round of Venture Grants is December 1, 2020.
CurePSP is the nonprofit advocacy organization focused on progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, and other prime of life neurodegenerative diseases, a spectrum of fatal brain disorders that often strike during one’s most productive and rewarding years. Currently, there is no effective treatment or cure for these diseases, which affect more than 150,000 people in the U.S. alone. Since it was founded in 1990, CurePSP has funded nearly 200 research studies and is the leading source of information and support for patients and their families, other caregivers, researchers, physicians, and allied healthcare professionals. CurePSP is based in New York City. Please visit www.curepsp.org for more information.
SOURCE CurePSP, Inc.