NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CurePSP and the Tau Consortium, leading foundations fighting neurodegenerative disease, have brought together a team of prominent investigators who will launch the definitive study of the gene variants involved in progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). PSP is a deadly brain disorder that afflicts about 20,000 people in the U.S. and is a leading target for researchers seeking to understand all neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The PSP Genetics Consortium will identify DNA sequence variants that cause, increase the risk of onset of, or protect against PSP. The study will use DNA samples provided anonymously by 2,400 PSP patients and another 600 control subjects. Once these gene variants are identified, there is the potential to prevent or treat the disease through the identification of new targets for drug development. The study is expected to begin immediately and the consortium will continue to work together for at least five years after its initial publication of results.
The PSP Genetics Consortium represents a unique collaboration of institutions and investigators and the application of major funding – factors that will be critical in understanding the causes of and finding a cure for neurodegenerative diseases, one of the most pressing medical challenges of the 21st century. Consortium investigators are affiliated with leading U.S. and European universities including the University of Pennsylvania, the Mayo Clinic, UCLA, University College London, Technical University of Munich, and Justus Liebig University Giessen.
CurePSP, the leading nonprofit advocacy organization for prime of life neurodegeneration, and the Tau Consortium, founded by the prominent investor and philanthropist Richard Rainwater, have provided substantial funding for neurodegeneration research. Their focus has been on the pathology of a critical brain protein called tau, which for reasons that are not clearly understood can assume a misshapen form and aggregate in the brain, leading to neurodegeneration. Tau is a critical factor in many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, the consortium’s managing director for CurePSP, said, “Patients, families, physicians, and researchers need a better understanding of the genetic factors that play a role in development of PSP and more-common neurodegenerative diseases. Identifying new genes that play a role in PSP is like putting handholds and footholds onto a blank climbing wall, providing the critical information we can use to advance ourselves up the steep pitch and arrive at meaningful treatments for these devastating diseases.”
Patrick Brannelly, Program Director of the Tau Consortium, added, ”Richard Rainwater became an icon of American business by thinking big and forging creative partnerships with the most talented people on the planet. His legacy lives on as we apply his approach to the conquest of a terrible neurodegenerative disease. The PSP Genetics Consortium will bring new hope to the patients and families who are struggling with PSP and related disorders.”
The organizing principles of the PSP Genetics Consortium call for statistical analysis to be carried out as a group effort with results and progress being shared. All publication of results will acknowledge the entire consortium. The gene-sequencing data will be made widely available to other scientists through established data portals such as the National Institute of Aging’s Genetics Data Site.
CurePSP is the leading nonprofit advocacy organization focused on prime of life neurodegenerative diseases – a spectrum of fatal brain disorders that often strike during a person’s most productive and rewarding years. Currently there is no treatment or cure for these disorders, which affect more than 150,000 people in the U.S. alone. Since it was founded in 1990, CurePSP has funded more than 160 research studies primarily in progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and the related disease corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and is the leading source of information and support for patients and their families, other caregivers, researchers, and doctors and allied healthcare professionals. CurePSP is based in Timonium, MD, with an office in New York City. Please visit http://www.psp.org/ for more information.
About the Tau Consortium
The Tau Consortium is an innovative medical research program that is operated under the auspices of the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. Since its founding in 2009, the Consortium has commissioned world-class basic research and drug discovery to treat and prevent progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and other tauopathies. The Tau Consortium acts with urgency and with patients in mind. It ensures that scientists work collaboratively and engage with partners who can accelerate their progress. To date, the Tau Consortium has provided nearly $70 million in funding to leading research institutions in the U.S. and Europe. Please visit http://tauconsortium.org/ for more information.