Biomarkers for ALS and Alzheimer’s Disease, FTD and Other Dementias

Target ALS and Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation Announce Award Recipients for Biomarker Research

Target ALS and the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) announced August 30th 2022 the first four award recipients in a new initiative to identify and develop biomarkers for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD).

The partnership includes financial support from the ADDF’s Diagnostics Accelerator, a global research effort initiated by ADDF Co-Founder Leonard A. Lauder and Bill Gates with support from other leading philanthropists to fast-track the development of biomarkers and diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

Discovery and validation of biomarkers will help researchers diagnose these diseases earlier, track their progression reliably and efficiently assess the effects of new drugs, leading to more efficient clinical trials.

Four projects were selected based on their potential to advance biomarkers for ALS and Alzheimer’s disease, FTD and other dementias.

Special congratulations go to the team with the miRNA focused project:

Machine learning for the diagnosis and multimodal profile of neurodegenerative diseases based on circulating miRNA in Latin American population

Claudia Duran-Aniotz (Universidad Adolfo Ibañez), Alejandro Bisquertt Zavala (Neurognos), José Manuel Matamala (Universidad de Chile), Agustin Ibañez and Andrea Slachevsky (Universidad Adolfo Ibañez), Rolando de la Cruz (Universidad de Chile)

The team is studying levels of micro RNAs (miRNAs) in blood plasma, which can be dramatically affected by the physiological and pathological changes associated with Alzheimer’s, FTD and ALS. This will be the first study to investigate miRNA biomarkers in Alzheimer’s, FTD and ALS from a Latin American and Caribbean cohort, establishing the feasibility required to expand the study to a larger number of participants and more countries across the region. Using data collected from 230 participants, the team hopes to develop a low-cost, non-invasive blood test for the detection and differentiation between patients with these diseases.

Other grantees and their projects are:

  • PROSA — A low-burden, high-frequency prognostic digital speech biomarker to improve future confirmatory ALS and FTD trials
    Johannes Tröger (ki:elements), Jessica Robin (Winterlight Labs), Anja Schneider and Andreas Hermann (German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases)
  • Novel biomarkers to detect and monitor TDP-43 pathology in ALS/FTD
    Pietro Fratta (University College London), Michael Ward (NIH/NINDS), Leonard Petrucelli and Mercedes Prudencio (Mayo Clinic)
  • Ultrasensitive detection of TDP-43 pathology with RT-QuIC of nasal swabs
    Magdalini Polymenidou (University of Zurich), Gianluigi Zanusso (University of Verona), Giuseppe Legname (Trieste International School for Advanced Studies)

Target ALS is a 501(c)(3) medical research foundation committed to the search for effective treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. We envision a world in which no one dies of ALS, and we play a unique role in the battle against this disease. Founded in 2013 by former New York City deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff — who lost both his father and uncle to ALS — our approach is breaking down barriers and silos that have historically inhibited research results. We do this through our Target ALS Innovation Ecosystem, which facilitates unparalleled collaboration between researchers from academia and the pharma/biotech industry. The Target ALS Innovation Ecosystem has revolutionized the field in just nine years through collaborations that have resulted in the first potential treatments since ALS was identified in 1869, including five drugs now in clinical trials. For more about Target ALS, visit


Founded in 1998 by Leonard A. and Ronald S. Lauder, the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is dedicated to rapidly accelerating the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer’s disease. The ADDF is the only public charity solely focused on funding the development of drugs for Alzheimer’s, employing a venture philanthropy model to support research in academia and the biotech industry. Through the generosity of its donors, the ADDF has awarded more than $209 million to fund over 690 Alzheimer’s drug discovery programs, biomarker programs and clinical trials in 19 countries. To learn more, please visit:


The Diagnostics Accelerator, created in July 2018, is a partnership of funders with funding commitments totaling $100 million to develop novel biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. In the initiative’s newly launched second phase, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), Eli Lilly & Company, Biogen and the Shanahan Family Foundation added their support to that of initial partners including ADDF Co-Founder Leonard A. Lauder, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, the Dolby family, the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation and The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, among others.

SOURCE Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation

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