Alzheimer’s leader discusses stem cell progress

Tom Vasich at the University of California Irvine did a Q&A with CIRM grantee Frank LaFerla in advance of the September 30 Southern California Alzheimer’s Disease Research Conference. La Ferla and his colleagues have been working on stem cell-based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.

In a question about the public health impact of Alzheimer’s disease LaFerla said:

It’ll be enormous, especially locally. California has the nation’s largest baby boom population; Orange County by itself ranks fifth. Alzheimer’s is going to hit us hard, because age is the most significant risk factor for the disease. One of every 20 people over 65 will be affected by dementia, and eventually half of those over 85 will suffer from Alzheimer’s. This is going to put an amazing strain on our healthcare system and on families.

He went on to talk about his own research, funded by CIRM:

We’ve had a lot of success with animal models showing that neural stem cells can reverse Alzheimer’s-like cognitive deficits. We’ve progressed to creating a population of human neural stem cells that will be the basis of clinical trials on patients. We’re still in the early stages, and we’re fortunate to have received a grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine that is supporting our work.

We had the pleasure of talking to LaFerla about this week a few years ago. In this video, he describes the work and the importance of finding a therapy for the disease.

A.A.

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