Wed, 27 September 2017
This week welcome to the show Dr. Dale Bredesen. Dr. Bredesen is internationally recognized as an expert in the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. He graduated from Caltech, then earned his MD from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. He served as Chief Resident in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) before joining Nobel laureate Stanley Prusiner’s laboratory at UCSF as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow. He held faculty positions at UCSF, UCLA and the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Bredesen directed the Program on Aging at the Burnham Institute before coming to the Buck Institute in 1998 as its founding President and CEO.
The uniform failure of recent drug trials in Alzheimer’s disease has highlighted the critical need for a more accurate understanding of the fundamental nature of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Bredesen’s research has led to new insight that explains the erosion of memory seen in Alzheimer’s disease, and has opened the door to a new therapeutic approach. He has found evidence that Alzheimer’s disease stems from an imbalance in nerve cell signaling: in the normal brain, specific signals foster nerve connections and memory making, while balancing signals support memory breaking, allowing irrelevant information to be forgotten. But in Alzheimer’s disease, the balance of these opposing signals is disturbed, nerve connections are suppressed, and memories are lost. This model is contrary to popular dogma that Alzheimer’s is a disease of toxicity, caused by the accumulation of sticky plaques in the brain. Bredesen believes the amyloid beta peptide, the source of the plaques, has a normal function in the brain — promoting signals that allow some of the nerve connections to lapse. Thus the increase in the peptide that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease shifts the memory-making vs. memory-breaking balance in favor of memory loss. This work has led to the identification of several new therapeutic candidates that are currently in pre-clinical trials.
Dr. Bredesen’s novel insights into the fundamental nature of Alzheimer’s disease recently attracted an investment of $3.5 million toward a $10 million goal for initial clinical trials of these new therapeutics. This generous support came from the private venture capitalist Douglas Rosenberg, who is helping to fund the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Network, centered at the Buck Institute. The unit is screening drug candidates to find those that can preserve a healthy balance in the signaling pathways that support memory. Dr. Bredesen’s work on nerve cell signaling is also the focus of a collaboration between the Buck Institute and BioMarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which is seeking treatments for a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease, early onset Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (eFAD), which may develop in people as young as 30 years of age.
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We have Dr. Dale Bredesen on the show. I’ve got to just say, it never ceases to amaze me some of the information that comes out on these podcasts. I just feel like the luckiest guy alive sometimes. There’s one that myself and Stuart love today. Dale was just a champion. We get into neurodegenerative diseases today, as that’s Dale’s area of expertise. He is a internationally recognized expert in the mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. [00:01:00] He’s also come out with a new book, which is a New York best seller, The End of Alzheimer’s. It was an instant New York Times success. Now the book, as well, is covering this groundbreaking plan to prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s disease. That fundamentally changes how we understand cognitive decline. But there are so many valuable lessons within this podcast for all of us, whether we know anyone with a neurodegen- … I can’t even get the words out, neurodegenerative disease, or not. [00:01:30] Yeah, just get into it. Enjoy it. There’s quite a lot of technicality in here as well, but it’s definitely worth a couple of listens. If you know anyone that is suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, then please share this podcast with them, because I think there’s definitely hope. This podcast will inspire them. It was just, yeah, phenomenal, and I’m keen to try and get this message far and wide. [00:02:00] The last thing I want to say before we go over to Dale is that if you are enjoying the shows, guys, I would love you to leave a review, five star it, and subscribe it, just to continue to help us get this word out there. I think we’re three reviews short of 100 reviews for here in Australia or anywhere. That’s fantastic. If you could be one of those three to get us over the line, that would be brilliant. Anyway, let’s go over to Dr. Dale Bredesen. This podcast is awesome. Enjoy! [00:02:30] Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Good morning Stuart.
Our awesome guest today is Dr. Dale Bredesen. Dale, welcome to the show.
Thanks very much for having me.
Look, it’s fantastic, mate. We always kickoff and ask the same question to all our guests when they come on the show. That is, if a complete stranger stopped you on the street and asked you what you did for a living, what would you say?
I do everything possible to see if we can improve people who have neurodegenerative illness. [00:03:00]
Beautiful, perfect. I couldn’t say it any better. The other thing we always ask as well, Dale, is, would you mind just filling us a little bit in of your journey, your background, and what led you to be so passionate about this work, and making waves in the industry?
[00:03:30] Yeah. I came from a different place than most people who are doing this sort of medicine today. I came from a very classical science background. I was interested in mathematics and chemistry when I was a kid. I went to Caltech, and spent time at MIT as well for those reasons, working in chemistry. And then decided that if we were going to do something … I got very, very interested in the brain. When I was a freshman in college, I read a very interesting book called The Machinery of the Brain. I got very excited about that and kind of got hooked for life on neuroscience. [00:04:00] But I realized that if I was going to make any inroads into the illnesses that affect the brain, I really needed to go to medical school. So I went to medical school and got a lot of criticism for being a scientist wanting to go to medical school. But I went into neurology, and as you know, neurology has a long history of being tremendous diagnosticians. And, of course, Sherlock Holmes was actually based on a real neurologist. But in general, neurologists have been known to be the group that does not do much about the treatment side, very good with diagnosis, not so great, not so successful with treatment. And the diseases, no question, they’ve been very, very difficult.
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