There’s ‘More Hope Than There Has Been’ for Treating Alzheimer’s

[ 0 ] June 21, 2014 |

We may be on the verge of a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment, according to Kenneth Davis, president and CEO of the Mount Sinai Medical Center, but the progress that is being made is still too slow. “You would have thought that between 1978, when we conceptualized the cholinary defect, to 2013, when we know so much more about the biology of this disease – that we would have come up with a better therapeutic, but we haven’t,” Davis said.

But “in the last few years, we’ve learned so much more about the biology of Alzheimer’s disease; from being able to scan people before they have the disease and being able to look at the entire genome of a thousand brains, that I think we’re on the threshold of now developing new targets and developing new clinical trials that give us much more hope than I think there has been.”

Watch genConnect talk to Ken Davis, president and CEO of Mount Sinai Medical Center, about Alzheimer’s, genomic sequencing, and health care reform:

WATCH: Tips on How to Boost Your Memory

Davis says that genomic sequencing is the best bet for learning about, and treating Alzheimer’s. In the past few years, the technology has become more rapid and costs less, which makes it all much easier. Davis recently finished a study in which he examined the genomic sequences of over a thousand brains. “That study resulted in a demonstration that there were a group of genes that all had to do with brain inflammation that seemed to have a core path of physiology of Alzheimer’s and could differentiate the Alzheimer’s brains from the other brains,” he says.

Kenneth Davis

Kenneth Davis

Related: Alzheimer’s Research – What You Can Do to Reduce Your Risk

Stem cells, he says, are not as miraculous as we expected them to be years ago, but their potential is still of immeasurable use to the medical community. Despite the fact that they can’t create entire organs from them, Davis says, they are able to take skin cells from “patients with Alzheimer’s disease and patients with Schizophrenia” and experts, “now know how to convert them in to stem cells.”

WATCH: The Future of Health Care Innovation

Davis said: “From converting them in to stem cells we can differentiate them in to neurons and we can study those neurons from people with Alzheimer’s disease or people with Schizophrenia and normal controls in the laboratory and say ‘What’s different about how those neurons function? What are they doing that’s pathological that the normal neurons aren’t?” He adds that the ability to get this information from patients who are still alive is amazing, since they were only able to get it from an autopsy beforehand.

The Affordable Care Act, Davis says, will not have that much of an impact Mount Sinai’s facilities, because the state of New York already has a comprehensive Medicaid program. “The extension of Medicaid under the ACA is a marginal increment to the patients who are going to come to Mount Sinai,” Davis says, adding that the hospital is absolutely prepared to handle the influx of new patients coming in.

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About Ken Davis: Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, is widely recognized as a visionary leader who has placed The Mount Sinai Medical Center on a strong and dramatic [...]
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