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What is Cure One, Cure Many?

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Learn how our philosophy of Cure One, Cure Many helps us uncover important connections between brain diseases and drives our approach to research.

At the American Brain Foundation, our support for brain disease research is driven by our philosophy of “Cure One, Cure Many.” This is based on our understanding that brain diseases—both causes and symptoms—are often interconnected, and that deepening our understanding of one disorder will unlock critical insights into other, related diseases. When we fund research across the whole spectrum of brain diseases and disorders, we increase our chances of developing these key insights and research breakthroughs.

Below we answer some common questions about what Cure One, Cure Many means and how this philosophy guides our efforts to achieve our vision of life without brain disease.

What does Cure One, Cure Many mean?

We know that all the different parts of the brain are connected. This means, for example, that diseases impacting one area of the brain often share causes or symptoms with others. 

By investing in research that can help us find these key connections between brain diseases, we create a foundation on which future researchers can build. This leads to more targeted avenues of research, the ability to apply elements of certain treatments to a wider range of diseases, the discovery of new biomarkers to aid in diagnosis, and ultimately more cures. 

Why is Cure One, Cure Many so important to the American Brain Foundation?

We have seen how brain disease irrevocably alters peoples’ lives—not just the millions of people impacted by brain diseases and disorders every day, but also their families, caregivers, and communities. That’s why we invest in research initiatives with the widest possible impact. One discovery can have a ripple effect that leads to new or improved treatments, better diagnosis methods, and cures for a range of brain diseases.

Doesn’t finding cures take a long time? 

Finding cures for brain diseases is a slow, rigorous process, but along the way we often uncover new insights that lead to new treatments, testing options, and technology. So as we’re pursuing a cure for one brain disease, we take significant steps forward in the research and treatment of many others. 

In fact, this is one of the reasons Cure One, Cure Many guides our investment in research: For each disease that we study, we gain knowledge that will improve the quality of life for millions of people living with other brain diseases as well.

How does Cure One, Cure Many help me? Will finding a cure or improved treatments for Alzheimer’s help my Parkinson’s disease?

We understand that it’s frustrating to see advancements in diagnosis and treatment for other brain diseases while living with a condition for which there’s currently no cure. However, advancements in one disease area can create the foundation for critical steps forward in others.

One research area with the potential to impact diagnosis and treatment for many different diseases involves neuroinflammation. Researchers are currently investigating the connections between neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis (MS). While inflammation is an important part of the brain’s immune response, it has also been linked to brain cell death and the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Neuroinflammation may also play a role in the brain’s inability to repair myelin—the protective layer around nerve fibers—in MS.

The more we understand the many complex ways that inflammation affects the brain, the closer we will get to understanding its role in neurodegeneration, and the greater our chances of developing early diagnosis methods and treatments.

“Cure One, Cure Many means that we are saving lives. We have the opportunity to see the first survivor of a rare brain disorder [like] ALSP. It’s important for us to find treatments and cures, not just for ALSP, but for all brain disorders, because we’re all in this together.”
— Kim Cade, whose brother Jeff was diagnosed with ALSP

“I’ve been a big proponent of sort of de-siloing the field. As I often say, Cure One, Cure Many is something that is extremely accurate. A huge amount of clinical and basic research is now showing that the underpinnings [of various diseases] in some ways are related and we can capitalize on discoveries in one field and bring them to another.”
— Frances Jensen, MD, FACP, FAAN
Professor of Neurology and Chairman of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Co-Director of the Penn Translational Neuroscience Center

How do you know Cure One, Cure Many actually works? 

So many historical advancements in brain disease treatment have been made possible through research. We have seen countless examples of one research discovery creating a ripple effect across the field, impacting the diagnosis and treatment of other diseases.

For example, the discovery in the 1980s of Lewy body disease (LBD) as a distinct disease separate from Alzheimer’s has led to a deeper, more complex understanding of the many different types of dementia. We now understand LBD as actually referring to two diseases: dementia with Lewy bodies (which begins with dementia symptoms) and Parkinson’s disease dementia (which first presents as symptoms of Parkinson’s disease).

Additionally, research sometimes yields a particular method of treatment that can be applied to many different diseases. In 2019, the American Brain Foundation’s Scientific Breakthrough Awardee, Jerry Mendell, MD, discovered a groundbreaking treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a previously untreatable and otherwise fatal disease. Dr. Mendell’s discovery was the result of years of research into gene therapy, and researchers are now building on this first-of-its-kind treatment to develop similar therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.

Discoveries like these lead to more clearly defined targets for future research and enable us to better understand how to treat all brain diseases.

What is the Foundation doing to support Cure One, Cure Many?

The American Brain Foundation recently awarded a Cure One, Cure Many Award for the early diagnosis of Lewy body dementia (LBD). The Foundation granted $3 million to a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of North Texas Health Science Center to identify a blood-based biomarker that will aid in the diagnosis of LBD. This award is offered in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, and the American Academy of Neurology. 

Additionally, our Next Generation Research Grants program funds innovative research from early-career investigators across the full spectrum of brain diseases and disorders. We are currently supporting research projects in ALS, Alzheimer’s and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and many other disease areas.

We also recently launched a research initiative to better understand neuroinflammation as an underlying mechanism of brain disease and brain health. This understanding will allow us to more precisely target symptoms and causes of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, stroke, epilepsy, and many more.

How can I support Cure One, Cure Many?

Every donation to the American Brain Foundation supports whole-brain research across the full spectrum of brain diseases and disorders. Looking for ways to offer ongoing support? Our monthly Brain Squad members provide the sustained commitment we need to fund research that will eventually uncover more advanced treatments and cures.

You don’t have to make a big donation to make a difference, either. You can help us by starting a Facebook fundraiser or personal fundraising campaign and asking your friends and family to donate. Spreading awareness of brain disease and the importance of research is crucial to finding cures. If you or a loved one has been impacted by brain disease, share your story today.

Learn more ways to support brain disease research and our commitment to Cure One, Cure Many—and help us take the next steps toward our vision of life without brain disease.