Join Dr. Lennart Mucke for a discussion of the historical approaches to developing therapies for Alzheimer’s, what leading edge research is uncovering, as well as reasons for optimism in our ability to treat Alzheimer’s and other devastating neurological diseases.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal neurological disease with an immense and growing impact on society. Alzheimer’s affects 4.6 million new patients annually and is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. More than two-thirds of patients are cared for by family and friends, and this exacts an enormous toll in terms of emotional stress, work disruptions and time. Due to our aging demographics, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s in the US is expected to triple by 2050 to 13.2 million.
Alois Alzheimer identified the disease in 1906. Over 100 years later, there are multiple treatments available, but their benefits are only modest. Breakthroughs in new treatments and protective therapies are needed, but these require a better understanding of the disease process.
At the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND), Dr. Mucke developed transgenic models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease which lead to the identification of molecular processes that cause or modulate the course of these diseases. GIND continues to lead investigative efforts into pathogenic factors and pathways at the molecular, cellular, network and behavioral level.
Dr. Mucke did his thesis research in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. He then trained in internal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and in neurology at Mass General. He did a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroimmunology and neurovirology at the Scripps Research Institute. In 1996, Dr. Mucke was recruited by the Gladstone Institutes and the UCSF Department of Neurology to head a new program in molecular neurobiology in San Francisco. The rapid progress made by this program resulted in the establishment of GIND, which Dr. Mucke has directed since its inauguration in 1998.