Connect with us

Research

Estee Lauder family pledges $200m to Alzheimer’s research work

Published

on

A philanthropic venture dedicated to speeding-up the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat, and cure Alzheimer’s and other dementias, has received a $200m boost from the billionaire family of the late beauty mogul Estee Lauder.

Ms Lauder’s sons, along with four of her grandchildren, have pledged the money to the non-profit Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation the family founded 25 years ago in the cosmetic giant’s honour.

It is the largest gift ever given to the ADDF – underpinning the Lauder family’s dedication to curing Alzheimer’s.

Ms Lauder, who died of heart failure in 2004 at the age of 97, battled the disease in her later life.

Now her sons, Leonard and Ronald Lauder, along with the entire third generation of their family, are stepping up their efforts to bring drugs to market quicker alongside tools to diagnose and prevent a disease which affects an estimated 50 million worldwide.

Leonard Lauder, co-chairman and co-founder of the ADDF, said: “Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t affect just one person, it impacts entire families. That is why this family gift sets the stage for the next generation to tackle and ultimately end this devastating disease.

“We are seeing important progress, and we feel confident that this gift will build on the current momentum to cure Alzheimer’s disease.”

Alzheimer’s gradually attacks areas of the brain needed for memory, communication, reasoning, and daily tasks. Despite years of research, it is not yet known exactly how the disease forms, but one theory is that the build-up of a protein called amyloid plays a key role.

In January this year a new drug, Leqembi, that’s been convincingly shown to slow cognitive decline, was given the go ahead on an accelerated approval pathway by the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration.

It works with the body’s immune system to clear amyloid protein build up from the brains of people living with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

An application has now been submitted to the European Medicines Agency for approval in the EU.

The Lauder family’s gift comes at a critical time with new advances in diagnostic tools also being made, such as the Amyvid PET scan, that have revolutionised Alzheimer’s research, making clinical trials more accurate and efficient.

The ADDF provided early funding for the scan, which played a crucial role in getting several anti-amyloid therapies across the finish line by tracking their ability to clear the protein.

Ronald Lauder, co-chairman and co-founder of the ADDF, said: “When my brother and I began this project 25 years ago, there was little hope on the horizon for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are proud of the undeniable impact the ADDF has made over the past two decades and we are more confident than ever for the future. As this research continues to progress, we will have prevention programmes to slow this disease before it begins, diagnostic tools to tell us what each person’s disease looks like, and effective treatments to eradicate it for future generations.”

The ADDF will receive the $200m over the coming decade and is expected to distribute the cash in grants over the next 15 years. Through the generosity of its donors – who have also included Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott – the ADDF has already awarded nearly $250m to fund over 720 Alzheimer’s drug discovery and biomarker programmes and clinical trials in 19 countries.

The next step for the ADDF is to help bring to market a new generation of drugs that are based on an understanding of the biology of ageing that can be used in combination with anti-amyloid therapies to stop Alzheimer’s in its tracks.

This work is already well under way, with 75% of the clinical trials in today’s robust and diverse drug pipeline aimed at novel targets. The Lauder family gift will fuel the ADDF to advance this next generation of drugs more quickly by allowing the organisation to explore the full potential of the current pipeline and move the most promising research forward.

Novel biomarkers will be key to developing personalised approaches that tailor drug combinations to each patient’s unique disease pathology, improving clinical trial designs and allowing researchers to identify who will benefit most from which drugs.

Dr Howard Fillit, co-founder and Chief Science Officer of the ADDF, said: “Many of the most promising treatments being studied right now are based on our understanding of the biology of ageing, an approach long supported by the ADDF, which focuses on the many processes that go wrong in the aging brain to cause Alzheimer’s.

“We believe we will conquer this disease using precision medicine approaches that have been successful in preventing and treating other diseases of chronic ageing, such as cancer. The biomarkers being developed by the ADDF’s Diagnostics Accelerator will play a key role, allowing us to pinpoint the best drugs to target the specific causes of each patient’s Alzheimer’s.”

Heather Snyder, a vice president of the Alzheimer’s Association in the US, commented: “The need to invest in research is paramount. Investing in research is how we’re going to understand the underlying biology and translate that to treatment and interventions that will benefit all individuals.”

Her organisation, which has its headquarters in Chicago, currently funds $320m in research projects.

The Lauder dynasty is one of the world’s richest, its wealth coming from the cosmetics empire that Estee and Joseph Lauder founded a year after the end of the Second World War.

 

Research

Older adults hospitalised for heart failure had high risk of kidney complications, finds study

Published

on

In a study of Medicare beneficiaries, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that one year after hospitalisation for heart failure, six per cent of patients had progressed to dialysis.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, have found links between heart failure and kidney disease that support new approaches for integrating the care of these conditions.

In an analysis that included adults ages 65 and older who were hospitalised for heart failure from across 372 sites in the US, researchers found that patients had a substantial risk of kidney complications, with approximately six per cent progressing to dialysis within a year of being hospitalised for heart failure. The new results are published in JAMA Cardiology.

“We know that heart and kidney health are highly interconnected, but management of heart and kidney disease remains relatively siloed, and kidney health often isn’t prioritised in patients with heart disease until advanced stages,” said first author John Ostrominski, MD, a fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine and Obesity Medicine at the Brigham.

“Declining kidney function is often asymptomatic until late in the disease course, but even less advanced stages of kidney impairment can have important implications for cardiovascular health. Hence, there’s a need for analyses that assess kidney outcomes in people with heart failure.”

About two thirds of older adults with heart failure have abnormal kidney function. However, few analyses to date have investigated the occurrence of clinically relevant kidney outcomes, such as hospitalisation for acute kidney injury or dialysis, in patients with heart failure.

Evaluating these more recognisable and patient-centered outcomes, according to Ostrominski, may result in substantial changes to the way that heart and kidney disease are managed together in the clinic.

The study analysed Medicare claims data from 85,298 patients over the age of 65 who were hospitalised with heart failure between 2021 and 2024. The data was sourced from the Get with the Guidelines-Heart-Failure Registry, an initiative supported by the American Heart Association that seeks to connect hospitals with current evidence-based guidelines and accurate measurement tools to improve care quality and industry practices. The registry is also proving a valuable source of information for researchers examining trends in health outcomes for patients with heart failure.

In the present study, 63 percent of patients were discharged with significantly impaired kidney function, as measured by their rate of filtration. The researchers also found that the risk of adverse kidney outcomes increased steeply in patients with lower kidney function. By one year after discharge, six per cent of patients were on dialysis, and seven per cent of patients were either on dialysis or had progressed to end stage kidney disease.

The findings suggest that at the individual provider level, cardiologists should prioritise assessing kidney function – including measuring kidney filtration and looking for evidence of protein in the urine, also known as albuminuria – in all patients with heart failure, and, when indicated, consider heart therapies that are known to improve kidney outcomes.

More broadly, the study emphasises the need for systemic changes that better support the simultaneous management of heart and kidney disease, including establishing clinics focused on integrating these two care areas, incorporating kidney outcomes into health care performance metrics for cardiovascular diseases, and expanding Medicare reimbursement protocols for interdisciplinary chronic care management.

Researchers at Mass General Brigham are actively engaged as sites for clinical trials evaluating newer treatment strategies for individuals with cardiovascular and kidney disease. The Accelerator for Clinical Transformation team is also developing new ways of delivering care—including medications with established kidney benefits—to eligible patients with and without heart failure.

“The trends we’ve observed aren’t especially surprising given what we know about the links between heart and kidney health, but what’s important is that this research emphasises the scope of the problem and gives us information we can act upon to directly improve clinical outcomes in patients with heart failure,” said Ostrominski.

“There are important opportunities for patients and providers, healthcare institutions, and, at the broader state and national levels, in terms of healthcare policy that could make a big difference for patients.”

Continue Reading

Research

Heart healthy behaviours may help reverse rapid cell aging – study

Published

on

The benefits gained with higher lifestyle scores may be associated with the positive influence of heart disease risk factors on the aging of the body and its cells, finds a new study.

The benefit of better heart health may be associated with the positive impact of heart healthy lifestyle factors on biological aging (the age of the body and its cells), according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

According to the American Heart Association’s 2024 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, heart disease and stroke claimed more lives in the US in 2021 than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined, and also accounted for approximately 19.91 million global deaths.

This study analysed whether a chemical modification process known as DNA methylation, which regulates gene expression, may be one mechanism by which cardiovascular disease health factors affect cell aging and the risk of death.

DNA methylation levels are the most promising biomarker to estimate biological age. To some degree, biological age is determined by your genetic makeup, and it can also be influenced by lifestyle factors and stress.

Researchers examined health data for 5,682 adults (mean age of 56 years; 56% of participants were women) who were enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing, large, multigenerational research project aimed at identifying risk factors for heart disease.

Using interviews, physical exams and laboratory tests, all participants were assessed using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 tool. The tool scores cardiovascular health between 0-100 (with 100 being the best) using a composite of four behavioral measures (dietary intake, physical activity, hours slept per night and smoking status) and four clinical measurements (body mass index, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure).

Each participant was also assessed using four tools that estimate biological age based on DNA methylation and a fifth tool that assesses a person’s genetic tendency towards accelerated biological aging. Participants were followed for 11-14 years for new-onset cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular death or death from any cause.

The analysis found:

  • For each 13-point increase in an individual’s Life’s Essential 8 score, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease for the first time was reduced by about 35 per cent death from cardiovascular disease was reduced by 36 per cent and death from any cause was reduced by 29 per cent.
  • In participants with a genetic risk profile making them more likely to have an accelerated biological age, the Life’s Essential 8 score had a larger impact on outcomes potentially via DNA methylation, i.e., DNA methylation accounted for 39 pre cent, 39 per cent, and 78 per cent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease , cardiovascular death and all-cause death, respectively.
  • Overall, about 20 per cent of the association between Life’s Essential 8 scores and cardiovascular outcomes was estimated to be due to the impact of cardiovascular health factors on DNA methylation; in contrast, for participants at higher genetic risk, the association was almost 40 per cent.

Jiantao Ma, PhD, senior study author and an assistant professor in the division of nutrition epidemiology and data science at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, said: “While there are a few DNA methylation-based, biological age calculators commercially available, we don’t have a good recommendation regarding whether people need to know their epigenetic age.

“Our message is that everyone should be mindful of the eight heart disease and stroke health factors: eat healthy foods; be more active; quit tobacco; get healthy sleep; manage weight; and maintain healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.”

Randi Foraker, Ph.D., M.A., FAHA, co-author of the Life’s Essential 8: Updating and Enhancing the American Heart Association’s Construct of Cardiovascular Health, said the findings are consistent with prior research.

“We know that modifiable risk factors and DNA methylation are independently associated with cardiovascular disease. What this study adds is that DNA methylation may serve as a mediator between risk factors and cardiovascular disease,” said Foraker, who is a professor of medicine at the Institute for Informatics, Data Science and Biostatistics and director of the Center for Population Health Informatics, both at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

“The study highlights how cardiovascular health can impact biological aging and has important implications for healthy aging and prevention of cardiovascular disease and potentially other health conditions.”

As the study is an analysis of previously collected health data, it cannot prove a cause-and-effect relationship between cardiovascular health risk factors and DNA methylation.

In addition, DNA methylation measures were  from a single time point, which limits the validity of the mediation effect. The study’s findings are also limited because the participants were predominantly of European ancestry, so the interactions of Life’s Essential 8 and genetic aging found in this study may not be generalizable to people of other races or ethnicities.

“Currently, we are expanding our research to include people of other racial and ethnic groups to further investigate the relationship of cardiovascular risk factors and DNA methylation,” Ma said.

Continue Reading

Research

€37.5 million for regenerative medicine using smart materials

Published

on

A new collaboration has received €37.5 million for regenerative medicine using smart materials to help boost research aiming to cure chronic diseases in an ageing population.

The DRIVE-RM consortium has been awarded the funding under the prestigious NWO SUMMIT programme.

The DRIVE-RM, led by Professor of Experimental Nephrology Marianne Verhaar from UMC Utrecht, collaboration involves UMC Utrecht, Utrecht University, Eindhoven University of Technology, Maastricht University, and the Hubrecht Institute, focusing on smart materials that assist the body in healing.

Regenerative medicine involves repairing or replacing damaged tissues and organs by leveraging the body’s own healing processes. DRIVE-RM specifically focuses on material-driven regeneration, using intelligent, lifelike, or even living materials that can prompt the human body to generate new tissue. This approach could radically change the treatment of chronic diseases such as kidney failure, heart failure, and worn joints in the future.

Verhaar commented: “Over the past 20 years, we have established strong collaborative efforts in regenerative medicine in the Netherlands with several large, innovative, and successful projects like the MDR Gravitation consortium. The SUMMIT grant is a wonderful recognition of this work and underscores the importance of regenerative medicine as a leading field in the Netherlands.”

The involved institutes have been collaborating for some time, resulting in valuable innovations. One example is a synthetic, biodegradable blood vessel that aids the body in regenerating blood vessels.

“With the consortium, we developed a blood vessel made of a degradable material that is gradually replaced by the body’s own tissue,” said Verhaar. “It can function immediately as a blood vessel and does not lose functionality as the body takes over. This innovation beautifully combines biology and technology. Now, we will see if it also works well in patients.”

DRIVE-RM is led by five outstanding scientists, all experienced in leading innovative research projects. In addition to Marianne Verhaar, who focuses on kidney and vascular regeneration, the team contains Carlijn Bouten (TU/e, cardiovascular regeneration and tissue technology), Jos Malda (Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht, biofabrication and bone/cartilage regeneration), Jeroen Bakkers (Hubrecht Institute and UMC Utrecht, regenerative biology and heart regeneration), and Clemens van Blitterswijk (Maastricht University, tissue technology and biomaterials).

The DRIVE-RM project takes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating for example Utrecht innovations such as organoids and 4D bioprinting with the technical and material expertise of TU/e and Maastricht University. This leads to new insights in directing repair processes from the level of individual cells to whole organs. These combinations are essential for customising treatments tailored to individual patients and their specific conditions.

A new approach is needed

The number of people with chronic diseases is increasing significantly, mainly due to aging populations. This leads to human suffering and high healthcare costs.

“Regenerative medicine offers a promising opportunity to effectively treat chronic conditions by encouraging the body to heal itself,” continued Verhaar.

“Our scientists aim to fully understand the repair processes of tissues and organs in the patient and then direct this with implantable smart materials.”

The DRIVE-RM consortium focuses on developing new treatments for heart failure, kidney failure, and disorders of bones, cartilage, and joints.

“Besides advancing scientific research and technological innovation, DRIVE-RM also provides a platform for collaboration with clinicians to make the translation to clinical practice,” added Verhaar, “and with ethicists to address ethical issues surrounding regenerative therapies.”

Together with the involved Health Technology Assessment experts, this provides a framework that ensures these advanced interventions remain affordable and accessible.

Enabling future generations of scientists

The DRIVE-RM consortium places great emphasis on maintaining a healthy, inclusive, and diverse research culture and training the next generation—a key goal of the SUMMIT program. Therefore, the team explicitly includes emerging talents who will continue to strengthen Dutch research in regenerative medicine.

Verhaar concludes, “Ultimately, DRIVE-RM is more than just a research initiative; it is a vision for the future of healthcare. A future in which chronic diseases can truly be cured. By collaborating with leading academic institutions, DRIVE-RM aims to make these visionary treatments a reality.”

Continue Reading

Trending