The National Alzheimer’s Project Act of 2011  (NAPA) set ambitious goals for research, care, and services for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The primary research goal is aimed at finding a way “to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.”
Setting and tracking milestones
At the April 29 meeting of the Secretary’s Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes presented a set of research milestones  (PDF, 713K) that NIH will use to chart its course toward the NAPA goal. The milestones provide the Council and research community with a framework for tracking and reporting progress in critical research areas and translating results into clinical care and services for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
The NIA led the milestone development effort. Staff reviewed the recommendations of participants at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit  held at NIH in May 2012 and consulted with representatives from other NIH institutes through the Trans-NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Research Working Group. Using the new International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio  (IADRP), they examined the current portfolio of research to identify areas of need and opportunity and used that information to make their best estimates of the time required to achieve the various milestones. They then used this information to establish target years for milestones in drug development, development of nonpharmacological interventions, epidemiology, research resource and infrastructure development and accessibility, and study recruitment and participation.
The milestones highlight a full range of pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions targeting various aspects of the disease, all phases of clinical trials, the need for increased collaboration and public-private partnering, and finding the most effective ways to ensure the translation of proven interventions into clinical practice. These research milestones will be incorporated into the 2013 update to the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s , scheduled to be published online in June 2013.
Expanding the International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio
The recently expanded IADRP includes project descriptions from new participants, with each addition to the Portfolio giving funding organizations the ability to locate potential research partners and assess needs and opportunities for new research areas. The list of funders now includes the NIH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Administration on Aging of the Administration for Community Living, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense, as well as the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
The database will be updated annually, and enhancements are being developed to streamline project categorization and ease the burden for organizations wishing to participate in the effort.
The IADRP was developed by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association. For more information, contact Dr. Nina Silverberg , Charlene Liggins  at the NIA, and Heather Snyder  at the Alzheimer’s Association.
Meetings and workshops further research goals, collaboration
NIH has hosted a number of meetings and workshops, many in collaboration with public and private partners, to move the research agenda forward in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. These include:
Enabling Partnerships for Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Development, Bethesda, MD – April 10, 2013
This meeting was designed to help create new partnerships aimed at transforming the process of Alzheimer’s disease drug development into one that is participatory, collaborative, well-integrated, and iterative. The meeting brought together representatives from government, industry, academia, foundations, and patient advocacy groups. The program focused on three interconnected goals:
- Enable rapid use and reuse of multidimensional data to build predictive models of the disease, necessary for the development of diagnostics and treatments.
- Create broad capabilities in quantitative and systems pharmacology to identify and select disease relevant targets, to understand in a precise and predictive manner how drugs impact human pathophysiology, and to enable drug repurposing and identification of combination therapies.
- Expand the precompetitive space for validation of novel targets from discovery through phase II trials.
For more information, contact Dr. Suzana Petanceska .
Advancing Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease in Individuals with Down Syndrome, Potomac, MD – April 16-17, 2013
NIA co-sponsored this workshop, organized by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in collaboration with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation, and Research Down Syndrome. The meeting focused on research in support of people with Down syndrome, a population likely to acquire Alzheimer’s disease. The workshop brought together more than 40 leading scientists and representatives from academia, industry, federal agencies, and private foundations to explore how current research activities and resources could be developed to create new opportunities to develop therapeutics and a research agenda for facilitating the development of successful interventions.
For more information, contact Dr. Laurie Ryan .
Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias: Research Challenges and Opportunities, Bethesda, MD – May 1-2, 2013
NIA co-sponsored this workshop, which was organized by NINDS in collaboration with the Alliance for Aging Research, ACT-AD, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, and USAgainst Alzheimer’s. The workshop brought together leading neuroscientists, physicians, and public and private stakeholders to discuss the key challenges and special opportunities for research in Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias. It was convened in response to the 2012 National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease to develop recommendations on research priorities in the areas of frontotemporal, Lewy body, mixed, and vascular dementias.
For more information, contact Dr. Creighton Phelps .