April 8, 2014

Contact: Bruce Janele, 800-457-4777

CurePSP Awards $1.45 Million for Neurodegenerative Disease Research

TIMONIUM, Maryland, April 8, 2014 - CurePSP has awarded $1,450,000 to two Penn Medicine research teams to study rare neurodegenerative diseases for which there are no treatments or cures.

Previous work by John Trojanowski, MD, PhD and Virginia M.-Y. Lee, PhD, MBA showed that tau, an important protein for normal brain functioning, can transform into a harmful state and infect healthy tissue, leading to neurodegenerative disease. Building upon this discovery, the Penn Medicine team will use $600,000 in funding to develop disease-modifying tau immune therapies for progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal degeneration (CBD) using mice as models. If good anti-tau antibody candidates are identified, they could be the subject of future clinical trials involving PSP and CBD patients.

“There are no disease-modifying therapies for PSP or CBD,” said John Trojanowski, MD, PhD. “Success with the tau immune therapy in our mouse models of PSP and CBD funded by CurePSP could advance this approach to therapy towards future testing in patients. Since similar tau pathology to PSP and CBD occurs in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), success with this approach could benefit AD patients in the future as well.”

A team led by geneticist Gerard Schellenberg, PhD previously discovered three new genes and two additional genetic variants associated with the risk of developing PSP, which was published in Nature Genetics in 2011. Dr. Schellenberg’s team is currently using $850,000 in funding to perform whole exome sequencing in an attempt to detect rare inheritable genetic factors that may increase the chance of developing PSP.

“We believe the partnership between Penn Medicine and CurePSP will significantly accelerate the momentum for treatment and a cure for all neurological diseases,” said John T. Burhoe, Chair of CurePSP.

“We are very excited about this research because of its potential,” said Richard Gordon Zyne, DMin, President-CEO of CurePSP. “It may not only unravel the mysteries of PSP and CBD, but also has the potential to find ways of treating other brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).”

PSP and CBD are movement disorders that affect an estimated 30,000 and 3,000 Americans, respectively. Atypical Parkinsonian disorders, including PSP and CBD, impact balance, motor skills, and cognitive abilities. Patients experience gradually increasing difficulties with swallowing, speaking, moving, and thinking. There are currently no treatments or cures for either disease.

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CurePSP is the foremost non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), and other atypical Parkinsonian disorders; funding research toward treatment, cure and prevention; educating healthcare professionals; and providing support, information and hope for affected persons and their families.