Rotary Clubs From Three States Award Penn $250,00
Grant for Alzheimer's Research From Pocket Change
PA) - Each week, Rotarians from clubs throughout North
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia empty their pockets
of loose money in the hopes that their individual donations
will, collectively, bring about a different kind of
change. Recently, officials from Rotary Districts in
the three states awarded a research grant of $250,000
to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania
School of Medicine for their work on the prevention
of oxidative stress damage - 'brain rust' - present
in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
With the award of this grant, Rotarians
will have given over $850,000 since 2001 from their
Coins for Alzheimer's Research Trust (CART) fund for
the research and cure of Alzheimer's and Alzheimer's
related diseases. CART was begun by Roger Ackerman,
a Rotarian from Sumter, South Carolina.
"Funding from sources like the Rotarians
allow us to jumpstart scientific research on the many
targets that we think are the molecular pathways to
curing Alzheimer's," said John Trojanowski, MD, PhD,
Director of Penn's Alzheimer's Disease Center. "It is
remarkable that just a few citizens can band together
to recognize a need and, with deliberation and foresight,
deliver major awards on the level of a large foundation
or government agency."
According to Trojanowski, Penn received
the award primarily because of the work of Domenico
, MD, Assistant Professor of Penn's Department
of Pharmacology. His work on isoprostanes, fatty acids
that are formed as the result of free radical damage,
have opened up a new avenue of promising research in
which drugs created to prevent oxidative stress may
In addition to the presence of senile
plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, an Alzheimer's
disease brain exhibits evidence of extensive oxidative
damage. Scientific research in this area suggests that
oxidative damage or stress, like the effect of rust
caused by oxidation of metal, plays an early and important
role on Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis.
"We have shown that isoprostanes are increased
in specific brain regions of Alzheimer's disease, but
not in other neurodegenerative diseases," said Pratico.
" In Alzheimer's disease patients, their levels of oxidative
stress correlate with the severity of the disease. It
is plausible that, once formed in the brain, isoprostanes
could mediate the cellular responses of nerve cells
to oxidative stress/amyloid plaques."
Therefore, the Penn researchers propose
to study the functional role of blocking the effects
of isoprostanes in the initiation and progression of
Alzheimer's disease. This is a new approach to treating
Alzheimer's, one that could take advantage of existing
therapeutics designed to combat oxidative stress in
other parts of the body, such as thromboxane antagonists
that prevent oxidative damage in blood vessels.
"Funding is a real limiting factor, and
the Rotarians are indeed taking a visionary approach
in seeking out funding projects at the preliminary stages
of research," said Trojanowski. "While I cannot say
just how much it will cost to cure Alzheimer's, research
in the last decade has identified many compelling and
novel drug targets. And the faster we pursue each one
through increased investment in drug discovery, the
faster we will get to meaningful therapies."
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Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.
Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.