Rutgers Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Research Center (RUADRC)

Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias are a major cause of disability and death in the elderly. Approximately 6 million people have been diagnosed with AD and related dementias and the aging of America’s population suggests that the number of Alzheimer's patients in the U.S. will, by 2050, increase to nearly 14 million people. Worldwide, approximately 40 million people have AD and related dementias. This number could also climb to nearly 120 million by 2050. With Americans spending $226 billion annually to treat the symptoms of AD, and other dementias, rather than the cause of this disease itself, this disease alone could cost Americans $1.1 trillion by 2050.  As 5% of AD cases are familial and ~95% are sporadic, disease-modifying drugs that treat both sporadic and familial AD are desirable.  Despite recent advances in our understanding of basic biological mechanisms underlying AD and related dementias, we do not yet know how to prevent AD and related dementias, nor do we have an approved disease-modifying intervention. A major reason that these problems persist is that current animal models of AD and related dementias have not been able to predict the effectiveness of proposed therapies, so that many that have moved into clinical trials fail, which greatly slows the development of new therapies and increases their cost. Thus, there is a great need to develop the next generation of animal models (NexGeMo) of AD and related dementias to provide greater predictive power of potential therapies and thus accelerate the drug testing/clinical trial pipeline.

Vision

The ultimate goals of the proposed RUADRC are:

  • To develop therapies to cure AD and related dementias or, at the very least, effectively slow down the course of disease progression.
  • To discover novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers that can forewarn the initiation of pathogenic processes before symptoms occur and also be used to monitor disease progression and treatment efficacy.

To achieve the above goals, research at RUADRC will focus on identifying disease mechanisms using genetic, cellular, organismal and behavioral approaches in animal and human model systems. Understanding of disease mechanisms will help uncover pathways that need to be targeted by drugs to achieve therapeutic efficacy. Development of relevant in vitro and in vivo models will be important for pre-clinical evaluation of novel drugs. A dementia clinic for patient recruitment, assessment and treatment will also be needed for translating research to clinic.

To fulfill the vision, RUADRC will have three components:

Component 1: Include cores for: development of novel animal models; histopathology; small animal imaging; electrophysiology; and, behavioral testing.

Component 2: Include cores for: developing novel human cell model systems, such as isogenic hIPSC lines carrying AD genetic variants; high-throughput drug-screening; and immunohistochemistry.

Component 3- Include a Dementia clinic and cores for: development of novel neurocognitive psychological test and novel neuro-cognitive rehabilitation approaches; human pathology assessment, human imaging; and collecting human samples (brain tissue, cerebrospinal fluids, blood/serum samples etc.).

The RuADDRC is directed by Dr. Luciano D'Adamio, MD/PhD, Herbert C. and Jacqueline Krieger Klein Endowed Chair in Alzheimer's Disease and Neurodegeneration Research, Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience and Professor of Neurology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and Associate Director of Neurodegeneration and Injury at the Brain Health Institute.