Chemistry’s Joshua Kritzer Receives a Sanofi Innovation Award

The invitation-only initiative is supporting an innovative, early-stage therapeutic approach for diseases like Alzheimer’s

Joshua Kritzer, professor of chemistry, has received a $150,000 seed funding award from Sanofi, a leading global life sciences company, to help develop treatments for neurodegenerative disease. 

Kritzer’s project will focus on a novel therapeutic approach for tauopathies, a group of neurodegenerative diseases that includes Alzheimer's disease, the most prevalent form of dementia. Unlike conventional treatment methods, Kritzer's approach aims target the cell-to-cell transmission of misfolded tau protein. This involves blocking the LRP1 receptor, a key component implicated in disease progression. Studies suggest that compounds capable of inhibiting this receptor have the potential to slow or halt the advancement of tauopathies, offering new avenues for therapeutic intervention.

In the Kritzer lab, the lead researcher on this project is Amarachi Osuji, a third-year Ph.D. chemistry student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The Sanofi Innovation Awards (iAwards) program is an invitation-only initiative that supports collaborative research with academic partners to expedite innovative early-stage projects relevant to disease treatment.

Through its support, Sanofi hopes to facilitate the transition of impactful research into sponsored programs, thereby creating opportunities for further development, licensing, and the establishment of new ventures.

The iAwards funding covers research expenses, including both direct and indirect costs, for a duration of 12 months. In addition to financial support, Sanofi will provide extensive research and development expertise and guidance, enhancing the project’s potential to accelerate the translation of research findings into tangible therapeutic solutions.

The research leverages Kritzer’s expertise in designing peptide therapeutics and the Sanofi team’s own proficiency in drug targets for tauopathies, particularly Alzheimer's disease. 

“Sanofi's selection of Joshua Kritzer's proposal for funding of his team through the prestigious iAwards program represents a significant step forward in the quest for novel treatments for tauopathies,” said Bernard Arulanandam, vice provost for research. “By leveraging expertise from both academia and industry, this collaborative endeavor has the potential to yield groundbreaking advancements in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, ultimately improving patient outcomes and driving innovation in healthcare.”

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