Jul 8, 2011

The Alzheimer's Puzzle Solvers

It seems to me that this "synergy" of effort is more likely to lead to an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease than a single scientist, or group of scientists working on their own.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Yesterday, I published an article and video, Alzheimer's, Henry McCance and Rudolph Tanzi.

I want to recommend that each and everyone of you watch this short video. Why is it important? I believe this is the kind of information that helps you to wire your brain positively.

Knowing and understanding that men like Henry McCance and Rudy Tanzi are working on the cure for Alzheimer's is important. This is the kind of infomation that empowers and engergizes Alzheimer's caregivers and the Alzheimer's community. When I think of Tanzi, McCance and the Cure Alzheimer's Fund, I feel hopeful.

No, the fruit of their efforts is not going to benefit Dotty. But, they could very well benefit Dotty's children and grand children. I know if Dotty could speak for herself, she would be greatly encouraged by the men and women that are working hard to find an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

I can't help but wonder what if?

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What would it have been like if at the age of 65 Dotty had been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease. I am using the word probable here to mean that she was likely to suffer from Alzheimer's disease at some point in the future. What if they had a pill like Zocor, a cholesterol inhibitor, that would have inhibited Alzheimer's disease. Slowed it down.

Dotty is 95 years old now. She is still ticking. And, she is still living her life.

What if I had the 85 year old version of Dotty right now, today. To me that would be remarkable. We could take a trip and have a lot of fun. Even the current version of Dotty can sometimes be funny and entertaining. But the 85 year old version was much better.

What if I had the 75 year old Dotty right now. That version of Dotty could do anything. Dotty was not your typical 75 year old. In fact she was in much better shape than the average 65 year old at that time. Dotty could really get after it and she was still working at age 75. She was still doing the "books". And, she could walk 30 New York city blocks without a rest.

As I listened to Henry McCance in the video I was greatly encouraged. There is no shortage of top notch scientists that are willing to work on finding a cure. However, there is a shortage of funding and too much red tape. The red tape is setting the potential for a cure back by years.

McCance, a world renowned venture capitalist, and the families that came along with him to start and maintain the Cure Alzheimer's Fund (CAF) are putting their money where their mouth is. The annual cost of running and maintaining an orgaization like the Cure Alzheimer's Fund isn't cheap. The families pay the overhead out of their own pockets.

If you donate to the Cure Alzheimer's Fund, 100 percent of what you donate goes directly into science. Not 72 cents. In most large charitable organizations the first 22-28 cents of your donation goes into things like salaries, rent, administrative costs and advertising to raise more money. Your donation gets a 22-28 percent haircut before it goes to work. One can only wonder if that additional 28 cents on the dollar would have made the difference.

In addition, the CAF requires the scientists they back to share the fruits of their research, their intellectual capital. So this means that each peice of the puzzles that is being worked on by a group of scientists gets shared with all the other scientists.

Let me ask you this simple question. If you were in a puzzles competition that paid a million dollars to the person or group that solved the puzzle first, who do you think would win? An individual working on the puzzles? Or, a group working on the same exact puzzles?

I'll put my money on the group every time.

It seems to me that this "synergy" of effort is more likely to lead to an effective treatment than a single scientist, or group of scientists working on their own.

The CAF is betting that a group of scientist working independently but sharing the fruits of their research will get us to an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease sooner -- more quickly.

Albert Einstien didn't work on his own. Neither did Thomas Edison. And, as they worked they had the benefit of all the available intellectual capital that came before them. They had the benefit of intellectual capital and collaboration.

Who invented the radio? Guglielmo Marconi is generally considered to be the inventor (Nikola Tesla was awarded the first patent by the Supreme Court in 1943). Marconi had the benefit of the work of James Clerk Maxwell (radio waves), Mahlon Loomis (wireless telegraphy), and many others before he invented. It was this intellectual capital that allowed him to envision and invent.

I believe that the treatment and the cure for Alzheimer's will come from the sharing of intellectual capital. The breakthrough will come from someone(s) that arranges all the pieces of the puzzle into a coherent picture. The flash of genius will lead to the treatment and cure. But first, someone has to have that important vision.

I want to mention Rudy Tanzi here. He has been willing sharing his intellectual capital for some time. He discovers a gene and then passes along that discovery to someone that can really focus in. A scientist(s) that can best work on the discovery process on that particular gene. Bring that one piece of the puzzle into focus.

Sooner or later, the puzzle will get solved. They say two heads are better than one. It only stands to reason that the more heads that work together, the greater the number of scientists that share, the more scientist that collaborate, the more likely that the battle will be won.

These are the Alzheimer's disease puzzle solvers.

Would you like to become part of the equation? An active part of the effort?

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room