DSRTF Awards $1.4 Million for New 2010-2011 Research Grants to Advance Cognition Research and Potential New Therapies in Down Syndrome
August 2010

 

The Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation (DSRTF) announces the award of $1.4 million in funding for six new 2010-2011 DSRTF Research Grants. Leading researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, the University of Arizona, Stanford University School of Medicine, the University of Texas, Austin, and VA Palo Alto Health Care System are the recipients of this latest round of DSRTF Research Grant funding.

The focus of the new DSRTF Research Grants for 2010-2011 significantly builds upon the DSRTF-supported research that has led to dramatic breakthroughs in defining specific mechanisms responsible for cognitive impairment in Down syndrome, as well as the identification and pursuit of five new drug targets and effective potential new drugs for improving cognitive function. The new grants will also continue a focus on overcoming potential critical challenges for new drug development and evidence-based clinical trials.

The new 2010-2011 DSRTF Research Grants include:

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY SCHOL OF MEDICINE

$485,000 DSRTF Research Center Grant entitled “Cognition and Therapy in Down Syndrome” to Principal Investigators Dr. Roger Reeves, Professor, Department of Physiology and McKusick Nathans Institute for Genetic Medicine and Dr. Stephanie Sherman, Professor, Department of Human Genetics Emory University School of Medicine.

 Co-Principal Investigators include Len Abbeduto, Ph.D. (Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison WI); George Capone, M.D. and Iser DeLeon, Ph.D. (Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore); Connie Smith-Hicks, M.D., Ph.D., Paul Worley, M.D. and Valerie DeLeon, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine); Lynn Nadel, Ph.D. and Jamie Edgin, Ph.D. (University of Arizona); Eleanor Feingold, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh); and, Cheryl Maslen, Ph.D. (Oregon Health and Science University).  

  • Investigation of how an early-in-life single-dose of SHH-like drug, in a mouse model for Down syndrome, completely restores hippocampal function involving learning and memory in adults 
  • Investigation of mechanistic differences in synaptic plasticity in hippocampal neurons and improvement in cognition through drugs affecting specific metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR) signaling
  • Expansion of Down Syndrome Cognition Project and Network to encompass six biomedical research institutions for clinical studies to correlate genetic and cognitive variability in individuals with Down syndrome, and to establish scaffold for clinical trials network
  • More than $1.35 million total DSRTF Research Grant funding since 2007 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

$350,000 DSRTF Innovation Research Grant entitled “Exploring the Neurobiology of Cognitive Function in Children and Adults with Down Syndrome” to Principal Investigator Dr. William Mobley, Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosciences.

Co-Principal Investigators include Pavel Belichenko, M.D., Ph.D., Alexander Kleschevnikov, Ph.D., and Chengbiao Wu, Ph.D.

  • Investigation of lowering the level of the chromosome 21 Girk2 gene encoded potassium channel as a novel potential therapeutic target for improving cognition in a mouse model for Down syndrome
  • Extend investigation into role of APP over-expression in age-related neurodegeneration and potential drugs that ameliorate effects of degeneration of specific neural circuits and improve cognition in mouse models for Down syndrome
  • Identification of age-related structural and cognitive changes in mouse models for Down syndrome
  • More than $700,000 total DSRTF Research Grant funding since 2009

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

$180,000 DSRTF Innovation Research Grant entitled “The Neuropsychology of Down Syndrome” to Principal Investigators Drs. Lynn Nadel, Regent’s Professor and Jamie Edgin, Senior Research Associate, Department of Psychology.

  • Further develop and refine the new Down syndrome-specific Arizona Cognitive Test Battery (ACTB) for more specific cognitive evaluation across a greater range of ages and ability levels, including advancing validation for specific biomedical standard in research and clinical studies
  • Determine sleep disturbance-cognition function correlations in individuals with Down syndrome using polysomnography together with the ACTB
  • Investigation of specific variations in genes involved in neurotransmitter metabolism that may correlate with attention, learning and memory functions in individuals with Down syndrome
  • More than $440,000 total DSRTF Grant funding since 2008

STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

$250,000 DSRTF Innovation Research Grant entitled “Exploration of the Mechanisms of Hippocampal Dysfunction and Pharmacotherapy in Down Syndrome” to Principal Investigator Dr. H. Craig Heller, Lokey/Business Professor Department of Biology, and co-Principal Investigator Dr. Craig Garner, Professor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and co-Directors Stanford Down Syndrome Research Center.

  • Investigation of roles of specific GABA-A receptor subtype and GABA-A antagonists in cognition and improving learning and memory in mouse models for Down syndrome
  • Develop and apply optogenetic technologies in mouse model for Down syndrome to investigate abnormal sleep mechanisms and specific correlations to learning and memory dysfunction
  • Investigation into the possible role of APP over-expression in sleep abnormalities and correlation to learning and memory in mouse model for Down syndrome
  • More than $4.4 million total DSRTF Research Grant funding since 2004

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN

$75,000 DSRTF Innovation Research Pilot Grant entitled “Comprehensive Analysis of 21st Chromosome Genes in Down Syndrome” to Principal Investigator Dr. Jon Pierce-Shimomura, Assistant Professor, Section of Neurobiology.

  • Development of a comprehensive set of transgenic C. elegans over-expressing different subsets of human chromosome 21-equivalent genes as new animal models for Down syndrome research
  • Identification of over-expressed chromosome 21-equivalent genes involved in neural dysfunction using automated behavioral analysis of the different sets of transgenic C. elegans

VA PALO ALTO HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

$60,000 DSRTF Innovation Research Pilot Grant entitled “Increasing Norepinephrine Signaling to Restore Cognition in Ts65Dn Mouse Model of Down Syndrome” to Principal Investigator Dr. Ahmad Salehi, Research Health Science Specialist and Clinical Associate Professor.

  • Evaluation of FDA-approved norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor, Atomoxetine, to improve learning and memory in a mouse model for Down syndrome
  • Investigation into roles of hippocampal beta-adrenergic receptor subtypes in restoring cognitive function in mouse model for Down syndrome

“These new DSRTF Research Grants are critically important to continue building the momentum in new discovery research and toward new clinical trials,” says Dr. Michael Harpold DSRTF Chief Scientific Officer and Chair, Scientific Advisory Board. “In addition, the first Research Innovation Pilot Grant awards represent a significant new initiative to additionally fund promising newly independent researchers and further promote new collaborations, attraction of new world-class research talent and rapid response to nurture and fund major new discoveries. DSRTF recognizes these new research grants and initiatives as well as the unprecedented advances would not be possible without the generous financial support of the Foundation's donors, and DSRTF is extremely grateful to all for your support.”

Since its founding in 2004, DSRTF has generated more than $7 million to fund and support major new results-driven research programs accelerating the development of treatments to significantly improve cognition, including memory, learning and speech, for children and adults with Down syndrome.

For individual 2010-2011 Research Grant Project Abstracts with more detailed information, click here.

Down Syndrome Research and
Treatment Foundation

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dsrtf@dsrtf.org

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