News : 2018 : September

A ‘CADRE’ of Experts to Ensure Inclusivity of Research on Alzheimer Disease

In 40 years, a staggering 13.9 million people in the Unites States will be diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease – nearly triple today’s prevalence of about 5 million Americans – according to a study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
African Americans and Hispanic Americans will be hit hardest.
Until recently, however, most research in this area – and medical research, in general – tried to predict, identify, prevent, and treat disease using data gathered from non-Hispanic White individuals.
“Because the same genetic factors don’t necessarily carry the same level of risk in different populations, a lack of diversity in genetics research can be very problematic,” said Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D., Director of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics (HIHG) and Executive Vice Chair of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
That’s where CADRE comes in. CADRE stands for the Collaboration on Alzheimer Disease Research, and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has tasked the organization, led by Dr. Pericak-Vance, Dr. Eden R. Martin, a Professor of Human Genetics and Director of the Center for Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics (CGESG) at the HIHG, Drs. Jonathan L. Haines and William S. Bush at Case Western Reserve University, and Dr. Lindsay A. Farrer at Boston University, with analyzing sequence data from ethnically diverse late-onset Alzheimer Disease patients using state-of-the-art approaches and translating these findings into high-priority therapeutic targets. The NIA awarded CADRE $14.6 million in grant funding over five years to complete the research across multiple sites.
In other words, CADRE, while fulfilling requirements for the federally funded Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) Follow-Up Study (FUS), will assess genetic data from diverse populations diagnosed with the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease in the hopes of identifying new factors that protect against or increase the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer Disease. This, in turn, will help uncover new avenues for drug development. The long-term goals of the ADSP-FUS are (1) to move the field closer to enabling prediction of who will develop AD; (2) to fully reveal the genetic architecture of AD in multiple ethnic groups; (3) to better understand the underpinnings of AD pathogenesis; and (4) to aid the quest for therapeutic targets.

Genetic studies have pinpointed more than 25 loci associated with late-onset Alzheimer Disease protection/risk, but very few studies to date have recruited a diverse group of participants that comes anywhere close to representing the unique tapestry of human genetics.
If drug development for late-onset Alzheimer Disease continues to be based on data gathered primarily or exclusively from non-Hispanic Whites, the resulting therapies will, unavoidably, be tailored to benefit this specific subset of the population.
“And that’s hardly in keeping with global and national efforts to advance precision/personalized medicine,” said Dr. Martin, who co-leads the University of Miami CADRE site with Dr. Pericak-Vance.
By completing large-scale sequencing for CADRE, these UM researchers and colleagues at other institutions will help characterize the genomic architecture of Alzheimer Disease, setting the stage for the prioritization of targets for therapeutic intervention.