A 73-Year-Old-Woman Who Should Have Gotten Alzheimer’s, Didn’t—Revitalizing a Search for the Cure
December 21, 2020
In an article published on Dec. 7, 2020, Newsweek explores Alzheimer’s disease, highlighting the research of NOMIS scientist Eric Reiman and Salk Institute of Biological Studies president Rusty Gage.
BY ADAM PIORE
Dr. Eric Reiman can’t reveal the identity of the 73-year-old woman from a rugged mountain town outside Medellin, Colombia, who arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport a couple of years ago for tests at Harvard Medical School. But he will say this: Finding her may well be among the most surprising developments to emerge from a nearly three-decade-long study of Colombians cursed with a gene that usually dooms its victims to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease by the age of 50.
The Colombian woman is just the latest piece of evidence to emerge suggesting that the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are far more complex and heterogeneous than previously understood. Despite a brain scan that revealed more amyloid-beta plaque deposition than many of her doctors had ever seen, her cognitive abilities were only mildly impaired. Which is why, even as the list of failed treatments continues to grow, many in the field have found cause for renewed optimism.
This hope is fed by an explosion in technological innovations in gene sequencing, data analysis and molecular biology, which are allowing scientists to study the progression of the disease earlier and in far more detail than previously possible. It’s also fed by money: the National Institutes of Health is expected to spend $2.8 billion on Alzheimer’s research in 2020—a six-fold increase since 2011, when Congress passed legislation directing the NIH to come up with an aggressive and coordinated plan to accelerate research with the ambitious goal of coming up with a way to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025.
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Eric M. Reiman
Executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute, CEO of Banner Research, and senior scientist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute
Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
NOMIS Center for Immunobiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
Platform for the Discovery of Alzheimer’s Disease Mechanisms and Treatments
NOMIS RESEARCH PROJECT