Archive for September, 2009

Roskamp Institute Scientist Awarded a grant from the Alzheimers Association to investigate a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of Alzheimer's Disease.

Sarasota, Fla. Dr. Daniel Paris, a senior scientist of the Roskamp Institute, was awarded an Investigator Initiated Research Grant Award from the Alzheimer’s Association to investigate the preclinical efficacy of a natural compound (celastrol) in a genetically engineered mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients is characterized by the accumulation of a small protein called beta-amyloid or Abeta and by the presence of intraneuronal tangle of a protein called tau. Abeta appears to be a key player in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and has been shown to trigger memory impairment, neuronal loss, abnormal tau protein accumulation, as well as cerebrovascular damages in various animal models of the disease. Abeta is produced by the cleavage of a larger protein precursor by two different enzymes called beta and gamma-secretase. Beta-secretase is the rate limiting enzyme in the production of Abeta and is viewed as a golden target for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. However despite intensive work, direct inhibitors of beta-secretase or Gamma-secretase with good drug-like properties have been extremely difficult to make. Given the difficulties being encountered by pharmaceutical industries for developing direct secretase inhibitors, Dr. Paris hypothesized that drugs which indirectly target the beta-secretase by affecting the production of the enzyme rather than by inhibiting it would be beneficial. Following the development of a screening method for identifying such drugs, Dr. Paris’ research team identified that a small molecule called celastrol is an indirect beta-secretase inhibitor that can potently oppose the production of Abeta. Celastrol is a natural compound extracted from a perennial creeping plant indigenous to a large area in southern China and known as the “Thunder of god vine”. Extracts containing celastrol have been given to Chinese patients for many years and are known to be efficient against inflammatory conditions. In the present research, Dr. Paris will determine whether celastrol holds promise as a therapeutic agent for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He will further investigate whether this compound can prevent or reverse cognitive deficits, Abeta accumulation and tau pathology that affect a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.

Roskamp is a not-for-profit research Institute located in Sarasota, Fla., that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. The Institute’s Memory Clinic also offers comprehensive cognitive and medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic evaluation is complete.

For more information, please contact the Institute at (941) 752-2949, Roskamp’s Clinical Trials Division in Sarasota at (941) 256-8018 or visit http://www.RoskampInstitute.com.

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Roskamp Institute Identifies New Class of Drugs to Treat Alzheimer's Disease.

Sarasota, FL The Roskamp Institute today announced that its researchers have uncovered a new link between inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease and have identified a potential target for developing novel therapeutics for intervention in this disease. The study, led by Roskamp Institute’s Pancham Bakshi, Ph.D., is detailed in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Biology Journal, a leading online publisher of peer-reviewed research.

It has long been known that Alzheimer’s disease is accompanied by inflammation, which both exacerbates and is caused by the underlying disease. In addition, it has long been suggested that abnormal deposits of a small protein, known as amyloid, which accumulate in the brain of those afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease, also trigger an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is thought to be detrimental to nerve cells, eventually causing their destruction.

Recent research at the Roskamp Institute has revealed that inflammation can lead to the production of more amyloid, and researchers have found that a specific receptor on the nerve cell surface, known as CXCR2, is an interface between inflammation and new amyloid production. As specific inflammatory molecules contact CXCR2, a signal is generated which results in increased amyloid production. The presence of the abnormally occurring amyloid; therefore, contributes to its own reproduction through the inflammatory response it triggers.

“I found that by genetically knocking out CXCR2, we can reduce the amount of amyloid in various laboratory models and, by using drugs that specifically block the CXCR2 receptor, we are able to show that a decrease in production of amyloid can be achieved,” said Dr. Bakshi. “This study, which for the first time shows the early role of inflammation in AD, opens a new door for therapeutic intervention, potentially leading to the use of CXCR2 blocking agents as a way to treat both the inflammation and the amyloid production in Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Finding new classes of medications for Alzheimer’s disease is a world-wide priority,” said Michael Mullan, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., director of the Roskamp Institute. “Dr. Bakshi’s work highlights a new class of drugs that should have the benefit of both stopping inflammation and, importantly, stopping the accumulation of the pathologic amyloid. In addition to the drug Dr. Bakshi has already tested, she is making her own drugs to attack this potentially important target.”

Dr. Bakshi is currently a scientist II in the Roskamp Institute and leads the Laboratory of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery in Neurology. Prior to the Roskamp Institute, Dr. Bakshi was a postdoctoral researcher with Dr. Michael Wolfe at Harvard Medical School, Center for Neurology from 2001-2004 and a sabbatical postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, Laboratory of Drug Discovery in Neurology with Dr. Michael Wolfe and Dr. Ross Stein from 2002-2003. Dr. Bakshi has a Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry from the Center for Biochemical Technology, New Delhi, and a Master of Science in Organic Chemistry and Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Delhi, New Delhi.

The Roskamp Institute is a not-for-profit research Institute located in Manatee County and Hillsborough County, Florida, that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and addictions with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. The Roskamp Institute’s Memory Centers also offer comprehensive cognitive and medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic evaluation is complete.

For more information, please contact the Institute at (941) 752-2949, Roskamp’s Clinical Trials Division in Sarasota at (941) 256-8018 or visit http://www.RoskampInstitute.com.

Roskamp Institute Announces Enrollment of First Students to Participate in its Innovative Research Doctorate Program

Sarasota, FL Sarasota’s Roskamp Institute (Roskamp) today announced the first enrollment of students in its pioneering three-year Ph.D. program through which students will conduct full-time laboratory research with direct mentoring from internationally-recognized scientists. Roskamp is an Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) of the United Kingdom’s Open University (OU) and was recently granted a license from the Commission for Independent Education within the Florida Department of Education to begin this program.

“Roskamp has always played a significant role in training and mentoring top quality students, and we are delighted to now have a formal degree-awarding program,” said Dr. Fiona Crawford, associate director of Roskamp. “With the enrollment of our first successful applicants, we look forward to further enhancing the Institute and its many partners and collaborators in Florida, as well as the local developing biotechnology community.”

“Our Ph.D. program brings the opportunity for postgraduate research students to participate in a one-of-a-kind program that will expose them to a world-class research facility,” said Dr. Michael Mullan, director of Roskamp. “They will work side-by-side with exceptional scientists, perform hands-on, laboratory-based research and gain the practical knowledge necessary to succeed in their area of research, and emerge as fully operational professionals.”

The Institute has enrolled three students in its Ph.D. program, which will expose them to Roskamp’s state-of-the-art technology and will allow them to gain knowledge of the Institute’s key divisions, including chemistry, proteomics and molecular biology. The first class of students in the program will pursue dissertation research on Gulf War Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury and Alzheimer’s disease.

Laila Abdullah, M.S., is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a master’s in Epidemiology. Abdullah is studying the biological cause of the chronic and complex health problems that Persian Gulf War veterans experience compared to other veterans, using both standard molecular biology and advanced proteomic technology.

Scott Ferguson is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Micro/Molecular Biology. Ferguson is studying how brain proteins respond to traumatic injury in order to identify new ways to treat the long-term consequences of these injuries which are of such high prevalence in the military and civilian populations.

Nowell Ganey, who is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science, is building on the seminal work of lead Institute scientists by exploring the mechanisms linking vascular factors to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

OU has a 110 acre campus in Milton Keynes, England, and is also a distance learning university and the leading eLearning University in the U.K. for its quality of teaching. With the addition of Roskamp, there are 24 OU ARCs around the world. In addition to the research degree programs, OU is a very large teaching university. More than 2 million students have studied at OU since its inception in 1971. The OU is accredited by the U.S. Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Roskamp is a not-for-profit research Institute located in Sarasota, Fla., that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. The Institute’s Memory Clinic also offers comprehensive cognitive and medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic evaluation is complete.

For more information, please contact the Institute at (941) 752-2949, Roskamp’s Clinical Trials Division in Sarasota at (941) 256-8018 or visit http://www.RoskampInstitute.com.

Southeast High School's Roskamp Institute project placed first in Florida and fifth in National Technology Students Association finals

Sarasota, FL Roskamp Institute was the focus of Southeast High Technology Student Association (TSA) team project in the Medical Technology category which was awarded fifth place in the Nation at the 31ST Annual TSA National Conference in Denver, Colorado June 28 – July 2 after wining first place in the State of Florida competition held in Orlando on March 3rd 2009 . The team fromSoutheast attended the National finals representing the State of Florida and holds the distinction of being Florida’s Most Outstanding TSA High School.

The Team’s project highlighted some of the cutting edge research being carried out at the Roskamp Institute. The TSA team members from Southeast High are Maya Meredith, Andres Romero, Rachel Metras, Lor Gregor, Diego Corzo, John Nguyen, Marissa Bressi. As well, the team won first place in Florida for another Roskamp-assisted project in the Scientific Visualization category. Southeast High School is located in Bradenton, Florida and is an International Baccalaureate Diploma School.

Please click here to see video of this award wining work by the Team from Southeast High.

Roskamp is a not-for-profit research Institute located in Sarasota, Fla., that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. The Institute’s Memory Clinic also offers comprehensive cognitive and medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic evaluation is complete.

For more information, please contact the Institute at (941) 752-2949, Roskamp’s Clinical Trials Division in Sarasota at (941) 256-8018 or visit http://www.RoskampInstitute.com.
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Local Researchers at Roskamp Institute to Test Investigational Gammaglobulin Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease

This summer, researchers from Roskamp Institute in Sarasota, FL, will begin testing an investigational approach to slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) using Intravenous Immune Globulin (IGIV), also known as gammaglobulin. IGIV is currently used to treat primary immunodeficiency disorders but is not currently approved for treating AD, which is one of the leading causes of dementia in the elderly.

Initial research in experimental models and patients suggests that immunotherapy targeting beta amyloid (the protein that forms the core of plaques in the brain) may provide an effective way to treat AD. Antibodies that bind to beta amyloid are present in IGIV, which is made from the blood of several thousand healthy adults. This effort seeks the public’s participation in testing IGIV in a major clinical trial that is jointly funded by the National Institute on Aging and Baxter International Inc.

One of the hallmarks of AD pathology is an abundance of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain. While it is not yet known if beta amyloid plaques cause AD or are a byproduct of the disease, scientists are interested in finding ways to reduce the toxic effects of beta amyloid on the brain. Antibodies against beta amyloid may do so by binding to toxic forms of beta amyloid, thereby neutralizing them and/or promoting their elimination.

“We are investigating whether IGIV, which contains naturally occurring human anti-amyloid antibodies, will defend the brain of AD patients against the damaging effects of beta amyloid. If it does, giving IGIV to patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s may potentially slow the rate of progression of the disease,” says Dr. Andrew Keegan, the principal investigator for the study at Roskamp Institute.

“In our initial studies in AD patients, IGIV provided cognitive benefits, improved brain metabolism and reduced beta amyloid levels in the spinal fluid,” says Norman Relkin, M.D., Project Director and Director of the Weill Cornell Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Program. In a Phase II trial at Weill Cornell, Dr. Relkin reported that participants undergoing several months of continuous IGIV therapy also demonstrated improvement in their activities of daily living. He added, “These findings, as well as IGIV’s established record of use for treating other diseases, provide a strong rationale for further study in AD patients on a larger scale.”

The GAP (Gammaglobulin Alzheimer’s Partnership) Study will examine the safety, effectiveness and tolerability of IGIV in patients with mild to moderate AD. GAP is recruiting 360 participants at 36 sites nationwide. This large Phase III clinical trial expands on earlier testing, is one of two Phase III trials, and is part of the final phase in studying IGIV as a potential treatment for AD before seeking regulatory approval.

The GAP trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in which two-thirds of participants will receive IGIV and one-third will receive placebo. It will last up to 82 weeks. Sites are looking for study volunteers who fit the following criteria:

* Male or female, 50-89 years old
* Have been diagnosed with probable mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease
* Have a study partner (spouse, child, sibling or friend) in contact with the participant 10 hours/week or more

The trial is being conducted by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), a nationwide consortium of research centers and clinics coordinated by the University of California at San Diego and directed by Paul Aisen, M.D.

“As many as five million Americans may be afflicted now and with the numbers growing rapidly, ADCS clinical trials such as the GAP study are essential to finding new and more effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease,” Aisen commented.

The ADCS is primarily supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The GAP study is jointly funded by Baxter International Inc. and the NIA. For further information on the trial, please go to: http://www.adcs.org/Studies/IGIV.aspx

For more information on this study and Alzheimer’s disease, please visit the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center website: http://www.alzheimers.org/clinicaltrials/fullrec.asp?PrimaryKey=282

Roskamp is a not-for-profit research Institute located in Sarasota, Fla., that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. The Institute’s Memory Clinic also offers comprehensive cognitive and medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic evaluation is complete.

Contact:
Dr. Andrew Keegan Jeffree Itrich
Roskamp Institute Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study
email: rclinic @ rfdn.org email:jitrich @ ucsd.edu
Phone: (941)256-8018 Phone:(858)622-5827
http://www.RoskampInstitute.com http://www.adcs.org

For more information, please contact the Institute at (941) 752-2949, Roskamp’s Clinical Trials Division in Sarasota at (941) 256-8018 or visit http://www.RoskampInstitute.com.

World Alzheimer’s Day: Leaders Call for Early Diagnosis and Aggressive Research

Alzheimer’s disease carries an annual price tag of $148 billion dollars, not to mention the personal toll that it takes on the over 5.3 million patients and their families.

More than 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and every 72 seconds someone in America develops the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, by mid-century someone will develop Alzheimer’s every 33 seconds, and there will be nearly a million new cases per year.

“With the country facing unprecedented economic challenges and a rapidly aging baby boomer population, now is the time to address the burgeoning Alzheimer’s crisis that triples healthcare costs for Americans aged 65 and over,” said Harry Johns, Alzheimer’s Association CEO.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive loss of memory and cognitive function. It destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking, and behavior that are severe enough to affect everyday life.

Experts believe that early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and early intervention with improved therapies provides the greatest opportunity to modify or halt disease progression. Most current therapies for Alzheimer’s treat the symptoms associated with it and not the disease itself.

“There is a rich, diverse variety of treatment possibilities for Alzheimer’s that scientists are exploring, offering great hope that drugs that may slow or even reverse disease progression could be on the horizon—saving millions of dollars in public health programs,” said Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D, Alzheimer’s Association Medical Scientific Advisory Council Chair. On World Alzheimer’s Day, we renew our commitment to early diagnosis and aggressive Alzheimer’s research in order to improve the health outcomes for people living with this disease.

Dr. Andrew Keegan and other local physicians are currently researching potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s patients that target causes of the disease, such as amyloid plaques in the brain. The buildup of these plaques is thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Some of these investigational drugs use antibodies, or immune system proteins, to dissolve the plaques.

“There are too many lives, too little time, and too much at stake for anything less than an aggressive plan to address the threat of this disease,” Johns said.

Roskamp is a not-for-profit research Institute located in Sarasota, Fla., that is dedicated to understanding the causes of, and finding cures for, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease. The Institute’s Memory Clinic also offers comprehensive cognitive and medical assessment toward differential diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and offers treatments and disease management options once the diagnostic evaluation is complete.

Contact:
Dr. Andrew Keegan
Roskamp Institute
email: rclinic @ rfdn.org
Phone: (941)256-8018
http://www.RoskampInstitute.com

For more information, please contact the Institute at (941) 752-2949, Roskamp’s Clinical Trials Division in Sarasota at (941) 256-8018 or visit http://www.RoskampInstitute.com.