NIH awards $47M grant to develop mouse models for studying late-onset Alzheimer’s

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

September 20, 2022 -- The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) a $47 million grant to develop the next generation of mouse models for studying late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous mouse models mimic early-onset Alzheimer's, a condition that affects fewer than 5% of Alzheimer's patients. However, the UCI model is based on the most common form of the disease. Late-onset Alzheimer's, which affects people in their late 60s and after, is far more common, comprising more than 95% of cases.

UCI researchers contend they can better understand the biology that leads to Alzheimer's and set the stage for preclinical drug testing by inserting human genetic data into the models.

The initial phase of the model was created in April 2021. The next phase of the project will be co-directed by Frank LaFerla, dean of UCI's School of Biological Sciences; Andrea Tenner, a Distinguished Professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, as well as a professor of pathology and of neurobiology and behavior; and Kim Green, a professor of neurobiology and behavior.

In 2016, the researchers won their first five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging. However, the new $47 million grant nearly triples that funding with funds to be similarly parceled out over five years.

UCI claims to be one of only two U.S. groups working on late-onset Alzheimer's mouse models, while noting the other initiative involves a collaboration between Indiana University, the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, and the University of Pittsburgh.

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