About 5.2 million people in the United States are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Patients with the condition have a progressive loss of cognitive functioning, which includes memory and language.
Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.1 million people throughout the world, with women having the disorder two to three times more often than men, noted the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Several different types of symptoms can occur with multiple sclerosis, including fatigue, sexual dysfunction, vision problems and cognitive impairment.
In the United States, an estimated 2-4 out of every 100,000 children are diagnosed with Batten disease, an autosomal recessive disorder, stated the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
A fatal disorder, Batten disease symptoms present during childhood, with patients becoming demented and blind. People with Batten’s disease often die by their late teens and twenties.
What do these seemingly different disorders have in common? They all affect the central nervous system, or CNS, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. The effects of all three conditions can greatly impact patients’ functioning.
There is also no cure for any of these three diseases.
For Alzheimer’s disease, current medication options attempt to slow down the progression of the disease — MedlinePlus notes that these medications may only provide a small benefit — and ameliorate symptoms.
Medications for multiple sclerosis focus on modifying the course of the disease and managing symptoms.
With Batten disease, treatments try to alleviate symptoms.
That is where the Collaborative CNS Screening Initiative comes in.
The project, which involves collaboration between the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), Beyond Batten Disease Foundation (BBDF) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, collects chemical compounds that have significant CNS activity.
The hope is that by sharing these compounds, researchers of CNS disorders can discover new and effective medications.