New government research grant funds targeted at infectious agents will accelerate investigations into the possible roles of germs in triggering or promoting Alzheimer’s disease”, says Leslie Norins, MD, PhD, CEO of Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, Inc.
The new monies were made known to scientists through a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the NIH.
The NIA has “open-mindedly added microbes to the probes it is funding to investigate the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, and we congratulate them”, says Dr. Norins. He believes this is the first time infectious agents have been spotlighted as worthy of study in Alzheimer’s via the FOA mechanism.
Dr. Norins says this new NIA funding is especially noteworthy, as the NIH is by far the largest funder in the world of Alzheimer’s research. “Therefore, it would be peculiar if Alzheimer’s advocacy groups did not consider this new NIA recognition in their own decisions about priorities for research funding.”
“This is something of a renaissance for viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms”, says Dr. Norins, as “even way back in Dr. Alois Alzheimer’s day, 1907, his contemporary, Dr. Oskar Fischer, attributed the disease to a germ.”
However, these early findings were minimized or forgotten, as scientists focused on the so-called “amyloid hypothesis”, because of the obvious amyloid plaques prominent in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients examined post-mortem.
Dr. Norins credits a “hardy band of dedicated researchers” for continuing investigations of germs despite minimal grant funding, and “keeping the flame alive” until the current reawakening of interest. He says, “They can all take a well-deserved bow.”
He says that if one or more microbes is proven causative for Alzheimer’s, that will open the way to a simpler blood test, a drug treatment with some kind of antibiotic, or even a vaccine.
Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, Inc. is an independent public benefit corporation headquartered in Naples, Florida. It sponsors the $1 Million challenge award for the scientist who provides persuasive evidence that a microbe causes Alzheimer’s disease. It is self-funded, and neither solicits nor accepts outside donations or grants.