PHILADELPHIA –The Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research (CNDR) at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has received $500,000 from the Bilger Foundation to identify new approaches and unique drug targets for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and, through its Drug Discovery Center, translate these research findings into new therapeutic drugs.

“Through the generosity of the Bilger family we are able to pursue two novel lead compounds for Alzheimer drug discovery that look promising in preliminary studies, but need substantial investment to evaluate as potential Alzheimer therapies,” says John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, Director, Institute on Aging. “Because there will be no magic bullets for Alzheimer’s, this gift is highly significant in that it will support research that, if successful, could put more drugs in the pipeline aimed at helping Alzheimer patients by blocking or abrogating the disease process.”

“The Bilger family gift will enable us to determine if an off-label drug used to treat organ rejection in transplant patients can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease,” explains Virginia M.Y. Lee, PhD, CNDR Director. “Additionally, we will test compounds that belong to a class of drugs that block oxidative damage, but this program is at an earlier stage of development and will require more work before we can test it in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. These studies will test important new avenues of therapeutic intervention in Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Bilger Foundation is headed by Arthur H. Bilger, Wharton Class of 1975, and his wife, Dahlia Bilger. The Foundation has executed this gift to establish The Nathan Bilger Alzheimer Drug Discovery Initiative in memory and honor of Mr. Bilger’s father, Nathan.

Alzheimer’s disease afflicts more than 5 million patients in the U.S. This number will increase to about 8 million in the U.S. by 2030, with an economic impact likely to exceed $500 billion. Although a small number of marketed drugs provide short-term symptomatic benefit, no approved treatments exist that arrest disease progression.

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PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

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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.

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