CureCaps Hat Project Makes First Medical Research Grants To Leading Alzheimer’s and Athersclerosis Researchers
Soon after Addi and Cassi were diagnosed with a fatal genetic cholesterol disease called Niemann Pick Type C disease, we organized a grassroots effort to collect “CureCaps” from volunteers around the world and sell them to help raise money for research into brain diseases that impact millions of people worldwide.
We want to report to our CureCaps supporters that we have made our first medical research grants of $15,000 to two world-renowned Swedish researchers, who are working in collaboration to study neurodegenerative disorders like Niemann Pick Type C.
CureCaps Research Award Recipient #1: Dr. Kaj Blennow, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
The first researcher to receive a CureCaps grant of $7,500 is Dr. Kaj Blennow, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden. Dr. Blennow is one of the leading Alzheimer’s researchers in the world who has spent years working to find biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Currently, there are no blood or routine clinical tests (“biomarkers”) to detect if someone has Alzheimer’s, Niemann Pick Type C disease, etc. You can’t treat a disease if you have no way to detect it or track it over time. Dr. Blennow is developing reliable tools for diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of therapy through the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers such as A-Beta and Tau.
- “In the field of brain disorders, the development of good biomarkers can enhance the possibilities for early diagnostics and the measurement of treatment effects. In the future, this could enable clinicians to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease before the person experiences any symptoms” – Dr. Kaj Blennow
Dr. Blennow and his team have taken CSF samples from Addi and Cassi and other children afflicted with Niemann Pick Type C and analyzed them for ‘biomarker signatures’ including Tau and A-Beta levels. What they discovered in Niemann Pick Type C children is that amyloid metabolism is highly disturbed just like in Alzheimer’s disease, creating an even stronger correlation between the two neurological diseases. Dr. Blennow and his team are looking for further correlations between the two neurological diseases and are exploring how a compound called cyclodextrin (we are treating the twins with this!) may alter amyloid metabolism.
CureCaps Research Award Recipient #2: Dr. Ingemar Bjorkhem, Professor emeritus of Biochemical Arteriosclerosis, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
The second researcher to receive a grant of $7,500 is Dr. Ingemar Bjorkhem, Professor emeritus of Biochemical Arteriosclerosis, at the Karolinska Institute. The Karolinska Institute is a medical university located in Stockholm, Sweden, and is one of Europe’s largest medical universities. It is well known because the Institute appoints the laureates for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Dr. Bjorkhem studies cholesterol homeostasis in the human body. Most people do not know this, but approximately 25% of the total amount of the cholesterol present in humans is localized to brain, most of it present in myelin. Cholesterol levels and cholesterol turnover are affected in many neurodegenerating disorders, and the capacity for cholesterol transport and recycling in the brain seems to be of importance for the development of these neurodegenerative diseases such as Niemann Pick Type C.
Dr. Bjorkhem is well known for his groundbreaking work on oxysterols, which are oxidized derivatives of cholesterol. Oxysterols are important in many biological processes, including cholesterol homeostasis, sphingolipid metabolism, platelet aggregation and apoptosis. Dr. Bjorkhem believes he has found a new type of oxysterol circulating in Addi and Cassi bloodstream. This oxysterol is potentially related to iron metabolism so he currently looking into oxysterols in patients with other disturbances in iron metabolism (hemochromatosis). Addi and Cassi’s may be getting iron overload and this may be a key clue not only for NPC disease, but other neurodegenerative diseases as well.
“Oxysterols are oxidized metabolites of cholesterol. These steroids are formed both enzymatically and non-enzymatically in all cells and have been ascribed a number of regulatory effects. They have been suggested to play a role in connection with atherosclerosis and neurological diseases. During the last three decades our laboratory has been involved in research on the role of the oxysterols in connection with the above diseases and we have developed a number of sensitive and accurate methods for identification and quantification of oxysterols.
Thank you to all volunteers who make and sell these hats. While these are small grants, they are making a big impact and there is a huge return on investment.
We are making a difference not only in the lives of kids like Addi and Cassi, but millions of others too! Winter is coming and we’re hoping to sell a lot more of the hats we have in stock! Please keep them coming!