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IND-Enabling Studies


Royal Society of Medicine's 13th Medical Innovations Summit | September 17, 2016
London, United Kingdom

  • Samumed's Regenerative Medicine Platform

Overview: Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disease affecting an estimated 5.5 million people in the United States (US)1 and over 46 million people worldwide.2

  • It is the most common cause of dementia and currently available therapies treat symptoms, not the disease itself which is ultimately fatal.1 
  • With the world’s aging population, AD is quickly becoming “The Disease of the Century”3, a global epidemic and a socio-economic burden impacting families, social service, and healthcare delivery systems.1

Symptoms of AD generally occur in patients in their mid-60s, though symptoms may occur earlier in patients with familial forms of AD stemming from a genetic predisposition.  The disease is initially characterized by progressive memory loss, and then slow progression to severe difficulty in accessing basic brain functions, prompting mental disorders.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a multifactorial disorder that involves several different etiopathological mechanisms ultimately leading to neurodegeneration illustrated at the cellular level by the presence of neurofibrillary tangles composed of the hyper-phosphorylated forms of the protein tau and insoluble β-amyloid plaques. The involvement of multiple pathways in the pathogenesis of AD poses a challenge for drug discovery; however, findings from recent studies suggest that the Wnt signaling pathway plays a central role in neuronal dysfunction in AD and other neurodegenerative diseases.4

  • Activation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway is critical for neuronal development, as well as restoration of adult neurogenesis, neuronal maturation, and synaptogenesis.5
  • Wnt signaling was found to regulate brain inflammation6 and promote neuroprotection to toxic amyloid fragments through crosstalk with other signaling cascades.7,8
  • Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the Wnt pathway and related signaling mechanisms are potential targets for pharmacological intervention in Alzheimer’s Disease.


    1. Alzheimer’s Association. 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Alzheimers Dement. 2016;12(4).
    2. Alzheimer’s Disease International. World Alzheimer’s Report 2015: The Global Impact of Dementia. Accessed 10/22/2016.
    3. Simpson SL. Alzheimer’s: The Disease of the Century. LinkedIn article. Website: Accessed 10/22/16.
    4. Inestrosa NC, Montecinos-Oliva C, Fuenzalida M. Wnt signaling: role in Alzheimer disease and schizophrenia. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2012;7(4):788-807.
    5. Varela-Nallar L & Inestrosa NC. Wnt signaling in the regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Front Cell Neurosci. 2013;7(100):1-11.
    6. Marchetti B & Pluchino S. Wnt your brain be inflamed? Yes, it Wnt! Trends Mol Med. 2013;19(3):144-56.
    7. Inestrosa NC, Toledo EM. The role of Wnt signaling in neuronal dysfunction in Alzheimer's Disease. Mol Neurodegener. 2008;3(9):1-6.
    8.  Ji RR, Xu ZZ, Gao YJ. Emerging targets in neuroinflammation-driven chronic pain. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2014;13(7):533-48.