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October 30, 2014
Major Breakthrough: Alzheimer's in a Dish - Dr. Rudy Tanzi
About This Episode
Highlights from our Alzheimer’s Talk with Dr. Rudy Tanzi:
Dr. Rudy Tanzi has made headlines all over the world for leading the team that made a major breakthrough: They replicated Alzheimer’s outside of the brain. Dubbed “Alzheimer’s in a dish,” this discovery gives Dr. Tanzi, his team, and researchers around the world the ability to test thousands of drugs faster than ever before – speeding the way to a way to a cure for Alzheimer’s. Here are just some of the key points Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Vice-Chair of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, addressed in our conversation:
- Essentially, Dr. Tanzi’s team created a model of the brain using a 3D matrix of gel. Six weeks after introducing genes to make amyloid from human stem cells, there was evidence of full-blown plaques. A little later, tangles appeared – just like those that occur in the brain. For the first time, Alzheimer’s pathology from amyloid to tangles was captured in a dish.
- Never before has the precise pathology of Alzheimer’s disease been replicated.
- With “Alzheimer’s in a dish,” we can now start screening potential drugs 10 times faster and cheaper than ever before. Dr. Tanzi plans to begin testing thousands of drugs that are currently being investigated.
- Prevention trials can take years and be extremely expensive. And, by the time a pharmaceutical company is done with a trial, its patent life might be over. Dr. Tanzi’s discovery creates an avenue for cheaper, broader-scale testing.
- Furthermore, researchers don’t yet know the precise right molecular target for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. One could spend $2 billion on a five-year prevention trial targeting the wrong molecule. Dr. Tanzi’s research will enable more strategic spending.
If you missed the talk – or would like to hear it again – you can listen to an audio playback or read a transcript of this illuminating conversation.