The development of dementia

NDC programs targeting each step of the process:

Objective

Reduce lifetime risk of
AD and other neurodegenerative
disorders

Prevent dementia in presymptomatic individuals developing AD pathology

Stop disease progression in millions of patients currently with AD

Horizon

Long-term

Near Future

Now

NDC's Drug Discovery Portfolio

NDC's Drug Discovery Pipeline Progress

Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN) Project

To date, there are no effective remedies or preventions for neuropathy, a common, painful and often debilitating nerve damage of the extremities that affects most patients receiving chemotherapy. This leaves patients with the sensation of being stabbed in the hands and feet with needles, severe hot and cold sensitivity and chronic pain.

These symptoms can last for years. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy develop neuropathy, and for many the problem becomes debilitating. Sometimes the only option for the oncologist is to reduce the dose or shorten the treatment, which reduces the effectiveness of chemotherapy and negatively impacts patient outcomes.

We need therapies to prevent or reduce the severity of CIPN so that oncologists can more aggressively treat tumors and improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. NDC researchers believe that such treatments for CIPN can be discovered here at MD Anderson.

At the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center , the research teams of Patrick Dougherty, Ph.D., professor of Pain Medicine, and Cobi Heijnen, Ph.D., professor of Symptom Research, have been studying the neurological consequences of chemotherapeutics in animals and patients for years. The CIPN project is now uniting them with the rest of the NDC researchers as they bring both technical expertise and innovative treatment concepts to the efforts. We are also working with the chair of Pain Medicine at MD Anderson, Salahadin Abdi, M.D., Ph.D., who is a clinical scientist specializing in the detection and management of CIPN. He is developing sensitive, quantitative measurements that will allow for rigorous clinical trials.

Integrating genetic discoveries in neurodegenerative disorders with human data

Our Bioinformatics Platform

Led by Joshua M. Shulman, MD, PhD, the NDC has exclusive access to the Religious Orders Study (Rush University Medical Center, Chicago), a database created from a group of individuals living in religious orders. This involves more than 1,100 older religious clergy who have agreed to medical and psychological evaluation each year and brain donation after death. Brain samples have been sent for gene association studies, RNA sequencing and other in‐depth molecular analyses.

Our mission with this platform is to understand genetic mechanisms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and to translate these insights to enhance risk prediction, diagnosis and treatment of these disorders. To achieve these goals, we integrate human genomic analyses with functional investigation in fruit fly models of neurodegenerative disease. Our innovative strategy is revealing genetic pathways of cognition and motor control, and their impact in the aging brain.