Beating Alzheimer’s Lecture


Researchers may have found a way to give Alzheimer’s patients and families hope.

PH. D Andrew Stamford, Director of Medical Research at Merck Laborites hosted a seminar about a breakthrough discovery that has the potential to stop Alzheimer’s disease in St. Albert Hall. 

The news is the result of the recent discovery of a protein that relieves symptoms in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.

Beta Amyloid, a precursor protein cleaving enzyme (BACE1), “is responsible for producing amyloid plaques in the brain” said Doctor Stamford. He added that “all (Alzheimer’s disease) patients have amyloid plaques in the brain which is believed to contribute to the symptoms.” 

The goal for researchers and scientist now is to develop an inhibitor to stop this enzyme and block amyloid production theoretically stopping the disease, according to Stamford.

A multidisciplined team of scientists have performed successful tests that have safely lowered the amyloid in the brains of rats and prime apes, Stamford said. They are now focusing on creating a successful inhibitor for humans. 

Dr. Lin Mantell of the college of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions organized the seminar and contributed by identifying the problems facing scientists. 

“It takes a very long time to really reach the finally destination which is to cure the disease,” she said, “and it is very expensive.” 

“Without this major discovery we cannot begin to talk about this treatment,” Mantell said.

Students at the seminar also voiced their concern of the availability of the treatment. 

“It would probably go to the richer people first and insurance would probably give you hell to get it,” graduate student Nicole Olgun said.

Dr. Stamford also said that it wouldn’t be exclusive and that the alternative would be to not make it available, which will make it more expensive to treat.

According to the research presented at the seminar, in the United States alone there are about 5 million patients and the total cost of health care for these patients equal approximately 172 billion dollars.” 

Dr. Stamford said that this is “projected to rise to approximately 15 million patients in 2050 costing 1 trillion dollars.” 

According to Stamford, this treatment would also be important because currently there are no treatments to slow, stop, or prevent the disease.

The treatment has the potential to slow the symptoms of the disease, according to Stamford.

“It would mean patients and families now have access to medicine which will delay significantly the progression of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “They could have a better quality of life.”  

According to Stamford, Alzheimer’s disease is very widespread and it can develop within people of all races and gender. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease lose nerve cells as the brain shrinks that leads to rapid memory loss and mental deterioration. 

According to the American Health Assistance Foundation, “on average, people live for 8 to 10 years after diagnosis” with the disease.   

Despite her concerns about the treatment, Olgun said that “It would definitely be a good thing, nobody wants Alzheimer’s.”