Alzheimer's Disease Project

Alzheimer’s disease is considered the “disease of the 21st century”. Worldwide, more than 25 million people suffer from the disease, and by 2050 the number will have quadrupled to over 100 million. This increase in patient numbers will raise global health care costs to unprecedented dimensions. Besides the cost factor, Alzheimer’s disease is devastating. Patients decline mentally and physically and transform from functioning human beings into helpless dependents, while fading out of life. Despite intense research efforts, Alzheimer’s disease is still a mystery and effective therapies remain unavailable for millions of patients.

One hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is accumulation of neurotoxic amyloid-beta peptide (Aβ) in the brain. The cause of this phenomenon is unknown, but reports show that increased Aβ brain levels are in part due to a failure in removing Aβ from the brain. Research over the last decade indicates that one element of the blood-brain barrier, the transporter P-glycoprotein, is involved in Aβ removal from brain to blood. We have recently shown that P-glycoprotein is substantially reduced at the blood-brain barrier in Alzheimer’s disease and that restoring the transporter lowered Aβ brain levels by 65% within days.

We are currently testing the long-term therapeutic effect of restoring blood-brain barrier P-glycoprotein on Aβ brain levels, learning, and memory. Our strategy is designed specifically to enhance Aβ removal from the brain, which holds the promise to lower Aβ brain burden, reduce memory loss, and delay onset and slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease.