By Dale Bredesen, M.D., Chief Science Officer for Apollo Health

For the past 40 years, I have been attending meetings at which Alzheimer’s disease data are presented — neurology meetings, neuroscience meetings, psychiatry meetings, drug development meetings, and other similar meetings. I have listened to hundreds of presentations, and given many, as well. I just returned from the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics meeting, a large, international meeting, and something occurred that I had not seen in 40 years of similar meetings.

One of the points made was that, over the past three decades, over 40 billion dollars have been spent on Alzheimer’s disease drug development and testing, with over 400 failed trials and no real success. That is devastating to hear. But on the first day of the meeting, in one session at which five practitioners presented, all five of us showed improvement in treated patients. After 40 years of meetings with failure after failure after failure, seeing five presentations all showing examples of improvement caused me to sit back, take a deep breath, and realize that we are truly at the dawn of a new era. 

How were these five physicians able to reverse cognitive decline, to succeed where all of the drugs and memory centers have failed? All five went far beyond the standard evaluation and identified genetic, biochemical, toxicological, physiological, and microbiological contributors, and all five identified contributors that had not been found by other practitioners. Addressing these causes of cognitive decline made all the difference — people thought to be “untreatable” showed clear improvement. Furthermore — another sight I had not seen at previous meetings — as I looked around, I could see neurologists beginning to nod their heads in agreement, beginning to see that these personalized, precision medicine approaches are indeed turning the tide against Alzheimer’s and pre-Alzheimer’s conditions. You could feel a change in the atmosphere at the meeting.

Of course, there is still a long way to go — we need to encourage people to come in early for prevention or earliest reversals of cognitive decline, and we need to encourage insurance companies to reimburse the relevant tests and treatment, among other critical needs. But finally, after decades of failure, things are beginning to change. It’s happening.

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