Dec 11, 2009

Is There a Cure for Alzheimer's Coming -- Stem Cells?

I often get asked this question -- When do you think there will be a cure for Alzheimer's?.....

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I am always reluctant to answer that question. Do I think it will happen -- Yes. When? Far into the future.

I am also asked in person and via email for my opinion on any of a number of ongoing clinical trials for the treatment for Alzheimer's disease -- most often Dimebon and Bapineuzumab.

I am reluctant to give my opinion on Alzheimer's research, science, and clinical trials because I am neither a doctor or a scientist.

I can say, that I favor certain kinds of science over others. My opinion is a result of my background experience (see below), studying the research, and discussion with doctors and researchers in the field.

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One area of Alzheimer's science that really attracts my attention is neural stems cells. As far as I know, neural stem cells are harvested from post-natal and post-mortem human brains for research. This of course would make the research controversial.


It is my belief as a non-doctor, non-sceintist that the greatest hope for a cure for Alzheimer's disease will come in the area of neural stem cells and neural networks.

There is some early stage research in this area that looks very promising.

In July I wrote:
While this research and the results are at an early stage, I believe this is exciting science. Granted it has a long way to go.
You can read about the ongoing research here -- Neural stem cells offer potential Alzheimer's treatment.

At the time I did contact the University of California Irvine to ask some question. I was told at the time that one of the scientist would contact me. It never happened.

I suppose they thought I was too small or just a blog -- if they had called they would have learned about my substantial Wall Street experience and contacts.

They will be needing several rounds of financing in the not too distant future -- I doubt they will need my help to find the capital.

Another area of Alzheimer's research that I find interesting and intriguing is in the area of mesenchymal stem cells and Alzheimer's.

There is some early stage research in this arena that looks pretty interesting and exciting.

The early stage research is investigating the transplantation of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells as a potential therapeutic approach to prevent various neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer's disease.

The key here is that the cells come from human bone marrow.

As a result, it might be possible to extract bone marrow from someone like my mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, generate mesenchymal stem cells, and then put them back into her brain.

If this approach proves promising it might get fast tracked because the threshold for FDA approval could be lower. Instead of using foreign material, such as stem cells from another person, in this case the stems cells would be made from your own body material. Less invasive and risky. Maybe.

Of course, it is unlikely that my mother will be around when a clinical trial of this type becomes widely available. However, we might be. We can only hope and pray.

It should be obvious that generating mesenchymal stem cells will be much less controversial than the generation of neural stem cells.

Intracerebral Transplantation of Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Reduces Amyloid-Beta Deposition and Rescues Memory Deficits in Alzheimer's Disease

So for the first time, I am stating my opinion. I believe the path to a cure is through either neural or mesenchymal stems cells.

If the opportunity comes to invest in neural stem cell research I will jump on it. This is the research I favor.

Either way, both of these potential cures are a long way off in the future.

There are other kinds of science. But, like I stated earlier, I am not a doctor, researcher, or scientist.

Having written the above, I do want to make it clear that a scientific breakthrough could come at any time.

I also believe that everyone should investigate the many clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease that are now ongoing.

Right now, we are in the process of determining if my mother is a candidate for the Dimebon clinical trial.

This should not lead you to believe that this is the only clinical trial that is of interest to us. It really is simple, my mother is too old for most of the clinical trials that are ongoing at this time.

I am also a fan of the research that is being done with bio-markers.

My credentials?

I did work on a number of interesting venture capital deals in the 1990s.

One was the start up financing for Myriad Genetics (Symbol: MYGN).

Myriad holds the patent on the breast cancer gene, and currently offers a test that measures a woman's genetic predisposition to breast cancer. You can visit the Myriad website if you are interested in learning about the company.

I also worked on the start up financing for Osiris Therapeutics (Symbol: OSIR).

At the time, the primary focus at Osiris was the regeneration of Mesenchymal stem cells. The scientists envisioned taking mesenchymal stem cells from a persons body, regenerating the mesenchymal stem cells, and then putting them back into the body to repair hip, knee, and mostly sports related injuries.

Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells, we all have them in our body. Mesenchymal stem cells have the capacity to form a variety of highly specialized cell types including bone, cartilage, muscle, tendon, fat, liver and many others.

That reseach as well a number of newer project are ongoing at Osiris Therapeutics.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,255 articles with more than 272,100 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room