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PHILADELPHIA – Two researchers will receive $130,000 each to continue their investigations into the use of neurotoxins as therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and the movement disorder dystonia through the Clinician Research Training Fellowship in the Neurologic Application of Neurotoxins funded by the American Brain Foundation and the Allergan Foundation. The awards were presented in Philadelphia during the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting, the world’s largest meeting of neurologists. Srikant Rangaraju, MD, a vascular neurology fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, received his award for research into the relationship between inflammation caused by microglia immune cells and Alzheimer’s disease; and Valerie Rundle-Gonzalez, MD, an adjunct clinical post doc associate fellow at the University of Florida in Gainesville, received her award for her research into botulinum toxin and physical therapy as treatments of cervical dystonia. “Microglia are immune cells that play a pivotal role in inflammation within the central nervous system (neuroinflammation),” Rangaruju said. “The importance of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease is being increasingly recognized and excessive microglial activation may result in harmful neurotoxic effects. Potassium channels, such as Kv1.3, are present on the surface of immune cells such as microglia.. If we find that blockade of Kv1.3 channels reduces neuroinflammation and protects neurons without major side effects, our research will pave the way for future efforts to translate these findings to humans, to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease as well as other neurodegenerative disorders.” Rundle-Gonzalez’s research focuses on the painful condition of cervical dystonia in which the muscles of the neck contract abnormally, causing abnormal posture of the head and, sometimes, involuntary head movements. “At this moment in time, there is no cure for this debilitating condition,” said Rundle-Gonzalez. “Research is still needed to find the exact mechanism by which this condition occurs. Botulinum toxin is the current treatment, and we hope to determine if the combination of botulinum toxin with physical therapy is more beneficial for patients compared to botulinum toxin treatment alone, and if it translates into less pain, improved quality of life and longer-lasting benefits.” Due to Allergan Foundation funding and a separate matching gift grant, the fellowships will have twice the impact: each two-year award will consist of an annual salary of $55,000 plus $10,000 per year for tuition to support formal education in clinical research methodology. Clinical research is the fundamental transition stage between discovery and treatment. Clinical research provides the scientific basis for all forms of care, addresses patient and caregiver needs and is the backbone for drug development and cost-effectiveness studies needed to improve lives. Fellowships provide recipients with up to three years of “protected time,” with salary that allows them to continue important research projects. Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and cervical dystonia at https://patients.aan.com. About the American Brain Foundation: The American Brain Foundation supports crucial research and education to discover causes, improved treatments, and cures for the brain and other nervous system diseases. One in six people is affected by brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and epilepsy. For more information about the American Brain Foundation and how you can support research, visit http://www.AmericanBrainFoundation.org or visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and YouTube. About the Allergan Foundation: Established in 1998, The Allergan Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation committed to providing a lasting and positive impact in the communities in which Allergan, Inc. employees live and work. Focused primarily on health and human services, the Foundation selects initiatives in the areas of ophthalmologic, dermatologic, neurologic, urologic, breast and women’s health that support patient diagnosis and treatment, increase access to health care and improve quality of life. In addition, The Allergan Foundation conducts grant making in support of the Arts, Education, and Civic and Community programs.
Allergan, Inc. is a global, multi-specialty health care company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing innovative pharmaceuticals, biologics, and over-the-counter consumer products that enable people to live life to its greatest potential — to see more clearly, move more freely, express themselves more fully.