Foundation capital

Brian Kraemer received $250,000 from the Washington Research Foundation to develop small molecules to treat Alzheimer’s disease

WRF grant will enable University of Washington professor to treat protein tangles believed to contribute to destruction of brain neurons

WRF’s generous support has enabled us to make rapid progress in early-stage drug discovery work towards MSUT2-based therapies. »

—Brian Kraemer, Ph.D.

SEATTLE, WA, USA, April 12, 2022 / — The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) has awarded a $250,000 technology commercialization grant to Brian Kraemer, Ph.D., to develop small molecules for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease ( UN D). Kraemer, a professor in the Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Washington, will use the funding to advance his new approach to treating the disease.

AD affects nearly six million people in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that number could rise to 14 million by 2060. AD impairs memory, cognition, and behavior, severely affecting the patient’s quality of life and ability to live happily. autonomous. It accounts for approximately 60% of dementia cases.

Current treatments for AD attempt to remove amyloid plaques from patients’ brains. However, this approach does not appear to significantly improve cognition and there is little evidence that it slows disease progression. Recent studies indicate that amyloid plaques may be a symptom rather than a cause of AD.

Instead, Kraemer and his colleagues are tackling the misfolding of a protein, tau, which can kill neurons in the brain and is the other key indicator of AD. By reducing the activity of a related binding protein, MSUT2, Kraemer believes it is possible to make tau less toxic and halt the progression of AD. He and his colleagues demonstrated in mouse models that a lack of MSUT2 activity reduces pathological deposits of tau (tauopathy) and rescues cognitive deficits. A $47,773 grant from the WRF in 2020 allowed Kraemer and his colleagues to identify five protein scaffolds that he believes can reduce MSUT2 activity.

“WRF’s generous support has enabled us to make rapid progress in early-stage drug discovery work towards MSUT2-based therapies. We are very excited to continue our work developing MSUT2-targeted small molecules,” said Kraemer.

“There is a huge unmet need for therapeutics that can treat Alzheimer’s disease. This is an area where innovation in an academic setting can make a big difference and explore new approaches that might be too risky for the pharmaceutical industry. WRF is thrilled to help Dr. Kraemer pursue his innovative ideas,” said Meher Antia, Ph.D., Director of Grants Programs at WRF.

Kraemer will use the latest WRF funding to further develop and test the small molecules he has identified, focusing on their ability to safely inhibit MSUT2 and cross the blood-brain barrier. If successful, it could pave the way for first-in-human studies to develop new AD drugs with its technology.

About the Washington Research Foundation:

The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) supports research and scholarship in Washington State, with an emphasis on life sciences and enabling technologies.

WRF was founded in 1981 to assist universities and other nonprofit research institutes in Washington with the commercialization and licensing of their technologies. WRF is one of the nation’s leading grantmaking and technology transfer organizations, having generated more than $445 million in licensing revenue for the University of Washington and provided more than $130 million in grants to state research institutes to date.

WRF Capital, a reserve fund pool for investing in Washington State startups, has backed 117 local startups since 1996. The returns from these investments support the Foundation’s mission.

For more information, please visit

Meher Antia, Ph.D.
Director, Grant Programs
+1 206-336-5600
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