Recent developments in chemistry, genetics, and biology revealed that many of the age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease, and ALS/FTD share protein accumulation as the common cause of neuropathology. In addition, the number and kinds of compounds generated within the last years have exponentially increased. However, these developments in science have not yet successfully translated into effective drug discoveries for patients. This proposal is a collaborative project between the Silverman and Ozdinler Labs, blending expertise in medicinal chemistry and selective neuronal vulnerability, respectively. In an effort to expedite drug discovery and to identify novel compounds that can move into clinical trials for ALS and age-related disorders, which develop in part because of protein aggregation, such as Alzheimer's disease, we have developed a novel strategy and a strong team effort. This strategy also could, more broadly, ameliorate other neurodegenerative diseases in which voluntary movement is affected and in which protein aggregation is a major underlying cause. Dr. Silverman discovered several compounds that inhibit protein aggregation in cells and that have favorable pharmacokinetic properties, and Dr. Ozdinler developed a novel in vitro and in vivo preclinical drug screening/verification platform using the improved health of upper motor neurons (UMNs) that become diseased from different underlying factors, as the read-out. Recent discoveries from the Ozdinler group reveal the importance of improving UMN health early in the disease and that maintaining UMN health is crucial for effective drug discovery efforts. It is unfortunate that this important neuron population has never before been considered in preclinical studies, even for diseases that are identified by their selective and progressive degeneration. This proposal will develop the first preclinical platform that utilizes diseased UMNs for the assessment of novel compounds generated in the Silverman lab that inhibit protein aggregation and improve the health of diseased UMNs both in vitro and in vivo. Upon completion of this proposal, we will move the field forward along two different avenues by developing a new preclinical assay that incorporates UMN health as the read-out, and by identifying novel drugs for age-related neurodegenerative diseases that develop from problems with protein aggregation .

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this proposal is to accelerate drug discovery efforts for age-related diseases in which protein aggregation is a leading cause of neurodegeneration, both by developing a new platform that utilizes upper motor neuron health as a readout and by investigating the efficacy of novel compounds for improving neuron health and circuitry function. Upon successful completion, our proposal will result in the development of a novel drug discovery platform and will identify new drug candidates for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and, more broadly, for other age-related neurodegenerative diseases in which protein aggregation is the underlying cause, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and ALS/FTD

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Project (R01)
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Drug Discovery for the Nervous System Study Section (DDNS)
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St Hillaire-Clarke, Coryse
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Northwestern University at Chicago
Schools of Medicine
United States
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