Every 3.2 seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. And yet, of the 10 most fatal medical conditions in the United States, Alzheimer’s is the only one without a disease-modifying treatment available. Compounding the issue, there is no way to accurately diagnose the disease or to predict who will develop it.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital is known worldwide as an innovator in Alzheimer’s research, with teams of scientists across the hospital pursuing deeper understandings of the disease’s development and treatment options. Among the Brigham’s scientists is David Walt, PhD, a professor in the Department of Pathology who is working to develop a simple, blood-based test to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
“Good Ventures’ tremendous gift is a testament to the importance of creating tools that will predict who will develop Alzheimer’s.” —David Walt, PhD
Recently, Walt’s research was recognized with a $4.25 million grant from the Good Ventures Foundation, a philanthropic foundation in San Francisco whose mission is to help humanity thrive. It was co-founded by Cari Tuna, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and her husband, Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and Asana.
“Good Ventures’ tremendous gift is a testament to the importance of creating tools that will predict who will develop Alzheimer’s,” says Walt. “With 5.7 million people across the country living with Alzheimer’s and almost triple this amount expected by 2050, it’s urgent that we find better ways to identify and treat those at risk as early as possible.”
Building on his lab’s success in ultrasensitive protein detection and analysis, Walt will use the grant to develop additional technologies to recognize Alzheimer’s at early stages, as well as to monitor the disease’s progression and evaluate new therapies.
“Many scientists believe drugs developed to treat Alzheimer’s have failed in clinical trials because they were administered after symptoms appeared and substantial neurodegeneration had already taken place,” Walt explains. “Now, clinical trials are being designed to test drugs during preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s in hopes the therapies will meaningfully alter the course of the disease. Determining who will develop the disease is paramount.”