According to a story from Xconomy, the Rainwater Foundation, which was first founded in the 90s by Texas billionaire Richard Rainwater, is offering cash rewards to the tune of $250,000 to any researchers that contribute to research related to the buildup of tau protein, which has been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative diseases. One such disease is called progressive supranuclear palsy.
About Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a type of neurodegenerative disease which is most characterized by the deterioration and death of certain areas of the brain over time. Men and women appear to affected at equal rates. There is not much known about progressive supranuclear palsy; the cause of the illness remains unknown. There is only limited evidence of genes playing a role, and current research is focusing on the role of environmental factors. Symptoms include falling, bumping into other objects, a distinctive lunging movement when walking begins, vision problems, slowing of movements, vision problems, cognitive impairment, and dystonia affecting the neck. There is no cure, and treatment is primarily supportive; management includes physical therapy to delay loss of mobility. In some cases, the Parkinson’s drug levidopa can be effective. Average survival from onset is seven years, but this varies considerably. To learn more about progressive supranuclear palsy, click here.
Lack of Knowledge, Lack of Treatment
There is a serious lack of treatment options and overall understanding of progressive supranuclear palsy, but hopefully the rewards being offered by Rainwater will help resolve this problem. Along with the $250,000 research award, the foundation is also offering greater amounts for other achievements related to the illness.
Hefty Rewards for Rare Disease Drugs
Researchers who develop an FDA certified therapy that “meaningfully extends better quality of life” are eligible for a $2 million reward. This amount doubles for a drug that can successfully cure progressive supranuclear palsy in its early stages. The biggest prize offered by the Rainwater Foundation is $10 million for an FDA approved therapy that can entirely prevent the disease or reverse its harmful effects.
It is probably unlikely that any one will be claiming these multi-million dollar awards anytime soon; such drugs often require years of development. The company will also offer $2 million to any scientist whose research is able to address knowledge and technological blind spots related to treatment or research for tau related diseases.
The connection between the foundation and this subject is that founder Richard Rainwater was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy in 2009. Before he passed away, he was able to a team of researchers to begin studying the disease.