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The search for a drug that can effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease remains ongoing and has been difficult to say the least—about 150 different drug trials for Alzheimer’s have already failed. But why? And what can be done about it? Erik Gunther, Ph.D. is an associate research scientist at Yale University who is asking the same questions.

He joins the podcast to give his opinion on why the search for an effective drug has failed up to this point, which leads to a discussion that touches on a host of other topics, including the beta-amyloid or plaque buildup hypothesis for what causes Alzheimer’s, what happens as the disease progresses, the role of glial cells in the clearance of plaque, the distinctly unique nature of the brain’s immune system, how the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier leads to hemorrhage and death in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, the role of sleep in the clearance of plaque in the brain, the way in which Alzheimer’s disturbs sleep patterns, and diabetes as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Gunther also discusses his current research, which has led to the identification of a neuron receptor on which the beta-amyloid protein binds, allowing for the eventual build-up of the plaque that’s hypothesized to cause Alzheimer’s. By developing a drug that also binds to this receptor, his team has found a way to block the interaction between the brain’s neurons and these toxic proteins, thereby preventing the buildup of plaque. It’s a novel approach to a long-standing problem, and he discusses how and why it could change things moving forward.

Tune in for all the details and visit https://medicine.yale.edu/lab/strittmatter/ to learn more.

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