Lerner Research Institute News
Read about the latest advances from Lerner Research Institute scientists, including new findings, grant awards, innovations and collaborations.
Lynn Bekris, PhD, Genomic Medicine Institute, has been awarded a three-year, nearly $300,000 grant from the Aging Mind Foundation to study inflammatory factors involved in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in order to better understand the underlying cause of AD and inform novel therapeutic strategies. She is the first Cleveland Clinic researcher to receive a grant from the Aging Mind Foundation.
Currently the leading cause of dementia and sixth leading cause of death in the United States, AD is projected to affect approximately 13 million Americans by 2050 unless effective treatments are established. Genetic studies have linked inflammation (the immune system's response to injury and infection) to AD development–notably demonstrating that variants of the gene that produces TREM2, a protein associated with inflammatory factor activity, significantly increases the risk for AD. These findings indicate the utility of targeting the immune response to treat AD, but when and how inflammation occurs in AD development remains unclear.
Given that changes in the brain that lead to AD begin years before the onset of symptoms, inflammation associated with AD may also occur during the pre-symptomatic stage of disease. With this grant, Dr. Bekris’ team will characterize a blood-based biomarker tool for understanding the dynamics of TREM2-related inflammatory activity during AD-specific pathological progression.
Leveraging the infrastructure of the Cleveland Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (CADRC) as well as the CADRC Biomarker Core, they will define TREM2-related inflammatory activity (TRIA) in individuals with and without AD/AD-related dementias. They also will examine TRIA’s relation to changes in the brain in individuals with AD/AD-related dementias and track those changes over time.
“Successful completion of this project will result in the development of an effective and easily accessible blood-based biomarker tool for measuring TRIA during AD progression,” said Dr. Bekris. “We believe inflammation is a cause of AD and plays a key role in disease progression and cognitive decline, so understanding its role in early stage AD has major implications for the development of early intervention therapeutic strategies.”
About the Aging Mind Foundation
The Aging Mind Foundation was established in 2013 in Dallas, Texas, by Laree Hulshoff and Bill Booziotis in an effort to fund critical scientific research that seeks to determine the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Since inception, the Aging Mind Foundation has raised over $3.9 million to fund high-quality, medical and scientific dementia and Alzheimer’s research. In 2014, the Dallas Foundation agreed to be the fiscal sponsor of the Aging Mind Foundation, a component fund of the Dallas Fund, 501(c) (3) publicly supported charity.