NYU Winthrop Hospital was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America for a research project into new Alzheimer’s treatments on Aug. 13.
According to AFA spokeswoman Sandy Silverstein, this is the first grant the Mineola hospital has received since its full-asset merger with NYU Langone Health.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a growing public health epidemic. With the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease expected to nearly triple by 2060, the need for a disease-modifying treatment is critical,” said AFA President and CEO Charles Fuschillo, Jr. “NYU Winthrop Hospital’s cutting-edge research project has great potential to increase understanding of the causes of Alzheimer’s and lead to a treatment that millions of families are hoping for every single day.”
A leading figure in the Alzheimer’s research will be Winthrop’s Dr. Allison Reiss, who is head of the Inflammation Section at NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Research Institute and an associate professor at the new tuition-free NYU Long Island School of Medicine. Reiss’s team will include four other doctors from Winthrop.
The doctors on the team include Dr. Josh DeLeon, director of Cardiovascular Research at NYU Winthrop Hospital and associate professor of Medicine at NYU Long Island School of Medicine; Dr. Irving Gomolin, chief of Geriatric Medicine and clinical professor; Dr. Aaron Pinkhasov, chair of Behavioral Health at NYU Winthrop; and Lora J. Kasselman, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the medical school.
“NYU Winthrop’s non-invasive exosome approach may prove to be one of the best methods for evaluating the human system in order to advance Alzheimer’s research,” Reiss said. “Examining these particles from brain neurons is like conducting detective work since they provide clues as to what is actually occurring in the brain itself.”
According to the AFA, the research team’s work will involve gathering blood samples from individuals living with Alzheimer’s and those without the disease and attempt to re-engineer the collected cells to behave like brain neurons. The research will isolate and examine “exosomes,” i.e. small particles shed from every cell, including neurons in the brain.
The AFA went on to explain that these extracellular pieces of a neuron, or vesicles, carry genetic information regarding brain neurons and can be extracted from blood. Researchers will investigate differences in the genetic data between healthy individuals and those with Alzheimer’s and plan to use the information gained to reprogram Alzheimer’s neurons to behave more like those in healthy people.
“AFA is pleased to provide grant funding for this exciting new research project,” said AFA Founder and Chairman Bert E. Brodsky. “Having cared for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, I know how hard this disease is on families and how desperately new treatments are needed.”
He continued, “We’re hopeful that NYU Winthrop’s research can make a game-changing scientific breakthrough that will improve the lives of families affected by this terrible disease.”