Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet

CIRM funds many projects seeking to better understand Alzheimer's disease and to translate those discoveries into new therapies.


Roughly five million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. today. Those people generally live much shorter lives and their medical expenses, combined with lost income for both them and their caregivers, is approximately $226 billion a year. Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. There are no drugs to treat the disease, although some do relieve symptoms.

One problem that has slowed new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease is the fact that no animal model truly mimics the disease. Drugs that have effectively treated animals with a form of Alzheimer’s haven’t worked in humans. What that means is that we need a better way of finding new drugs. CIRM funds several awards to researchers who are creating stem cell models of the disease in a lab dish using cells from Alzheimer’s patients. They can then test drugs on nerve cells derived from the stem cells of Alzheimer’s patients to look for ones that eliminate symptoms of the disease. These models are the only way of testing drugs in actual human cells.

The agency also funds teams that are in the early stages of developing potential therapies using stem cells. Some groups are trying to mature embryonic stem cells into a cell type that can be transplanted into the brain to replace cells that are destroyed in the disease. Others are simply using stem cells as a way of delivering factors that appear to protect brain cells. One team is trying to use stem cells to clear out the protein that builds up and clogs neurons in Alzheimer’s patients.

CIRM Grants Targeting Alzheimer's Disease

Researcher name Institution Grant Title Approved funds
Alexandra Capela StemCells, Inc. Restoration of memory in Alzheimer’s disease: a new paradigm using neural stem cell therapy $8,901,641
James Brewer University of California, San Diego Collection of skin biopsies to prepare fibroblasts from patients with Alzheimer's disease and cognitively healthy elderly controls $643,693
Thomas Novak Cellular Dynamics International Generation and characterization of high-quality, footprint-free human induced pluripotent stem cell lines from 3,000 donors to investigate multigenic diseases $16,000,000
Cristian Perez Coriell Institute for Medical Research The CIRM Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Biorepository – A Resource for Safe Storage and Distribution of High Quality iPSCs $9,942,175
Lawrence Goldstein University of California, San Diego Elucidating pathways from hereditary Alzheimer mutations to pathological tau phenotypes $1,050,300
Tony Wyss-Coray Palo Alto Institute for Research and Education Systemic Protein Factors as Modulators of the Aging Neurogenic Niche $1,159,806
Douglas Ethell University of California, Riverside ES-Derived Cells for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease $621,639
Anirvan Ghosh University of California, San Diego Generation of forebrain neurons from human embryonic stem cells $587,591
Mathew Blurton-Jones University of California, Irvine Optimizing the differentiation and expansion of microglial progenitors from human pluripotent stem cells for the study and treatment of neurological disease. $1,147,596
Frank LaFerla University of California, Irvine Development of human ES cell lines as a model system for Alzheimer disease drug discovery $473,963
David Schubert Salk Institute for Biological Studies Human Stem-Cell Based Development of a Potent Alzheimer’s Drug Candidate $1,664,885
Lawrence Goldstein University of California, San Diego Using Human Embryonic Stem Cells to Understand and to Develop New Therapies for Alzheimer's Disease $1,859,414
Frank LaFerla University of California, Irvine Neural Stem Cells as a Developmental Candidate to Treat Alzheimer Disease $3,599,997
Douglas Ethell Western University of Health Sciences ES-Derived Cells for the Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease $1,401,642
Lawrence Goldstein University of California, San Diego Developing a method for rapid identification of high-quality disease specific hIPSC lines $1,692,334
Alexandra Capela StemCells, Inc. Neuroprotection to treat Alzheimer's: a new paradigm using human central nervous system cells $90,101
Roberta Brinton University of Southern California A CIRM Disease Team to Develop Allopregnanolone for Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease $107,961
Lawrence Goldstein University of California, San Diego Identifying Drugs for Alzheimer's Disease with Human Neurons Made From Human IPS cells $1,774,420
David Schubert Salk Institute for Biological Studies Stem cell based small molecule therapy for Alzheimer's disease $1,673,757

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