December 28, 2020
Success and Failure in Alzheimer’s Treatment
Alzheimer’s is among the most devastating diseases in the world, with no effective pharmaceutical solution. Despite decades of intense research and development and billions of dollars spent, there are only a handful of FDA-approved medications, and these do nothing to change disease progression — arguably the greatest failure of modern medicine to date.
You may have heard insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome, yet that is precisely what has happened with the repeated testing of anti-amyloid antibodies, based on the amyloid hypothesis. This leading theory postulates that amyloid-beta is the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, despite the fact that many well-designed and well-executed trials focused on removing it have failed to show benefit. This singular focus on amyloid-beta is even harder to understand when you consider that many people who die with normal cognition are found to have brains full of amyloid.
Those who acknowledge the complexity of the disease and propose alternate theories have largely been starved of funding, ridiculed, and even attacked, as evidenced in The Rise of Pseudomedicine for Dementia and Brain Health. Indeed, a very cozy relationship has developed between supporters of the amyloid hypothesis, funding agencies, and pharmaceutical companies, ensuring that only programs supporting the orthodox position receive funding. The British Medical Journal recently published a study that investigated the nature and extent of control exerted by financial relationships between various medical groups in the U.S. This study concluded that approximately 75% of doctors who sit on boards of large pharmaceutical companies and other influential professional medical organizations have financial industry ties that may influence their decision-making; one example is evidenced by the conflict-of-interest statement from the authors of the “Pseudomedicine” editorial. Perhaps it becomes much easier to ignore data that contradict your hypothesis when your paycheck depends upon it?
The medical research community has not only failed to deliver effective treatment for Alzheimer’s; it has failed Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The approach developed by Dr. Bredesen is fundamentally different simply because it involves identifying and targeting the factors causing the cognitive decline, instead of treating blindly, with a one-size-fits-all approach, which is the current standard of care. While his critics claim that elements of his treatment approach are included in their standard of care, that is not what the vast majority of patients experience: for example, when Julie Gregory, who carries two copies of the ApoE4 allele (associated with a dramatically increased risk of Alzheimer’s), developed significant cognitive decline, she approached her neurologist and asked what she could do to improve her cognition, and was told, “Good luck with that.” Another member of the ApoE4.Info community, a non-profit that Julie founded to search for solutions, was told to “Go home and wait for it.” After diagnosis, many patients report being told to “get their affairs in order” as there is “nothing that can be done.”
Apollo Health was Created to Improve Outcomes for Patients with Cognitive Decline
In 2014, Dr. Bredesen published the first examples of reversal of cognitive decline using a novel protocol based on his theory of Alzheimer’s, which focuses on an imbalance of neuroplasticity signaling, conceived through decades of work in the laboratory. Although this protocol has led to repeated success documented in follow-up publications and a recently completed clinical trial, the mainstream medical community continues to adhere to standard treatment, offering medications that provide temporary symptomatic improvement at best, and no hope for a fatal degenerative disease, which by some estimates is currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S. This outdated, monotherapeutic approach continues to prove its inefficacy on a daily basis.
Apollo Health was created to provide effective, precision medicine and digital health technology for those with cognitive decline or risk for decline: expanded lab testing, deeper analysis, subtyping, computer-based algorithms for optimal analysis and treatment protocols, and continued optimization for better and better outcomes. By partnering in 2017 with Lance Kelly, who has over 25 years of experience leading engineering and design teams focused on consumer technology, they hoped to effectively and affordably scale his approach, easing the global burden of dementia. Kelly, the chief operating officer for Apollo Health, witnessed firsthand the void of Alzheimer’s treatment options as he watched his father die from the disease, deepening his commitment to the project. To date, no pill and no other method has achieved the success demonstrated in Dr. Bredesen’s approach.
Why is the Bredesen Protocol Effective?
Instead of aiming to remove plaques from the brain, the Bredesen Protocol was developed by asking why they arise in the first place. This question has proven critical, as Dr. Bredesen has found that amyloid-beta deposits form as part of the body’s defense mechanisms against various brain insults. He asserts that Alzheimer’s results from an imbalance in the brain’s neuroplasticity signaling. As we age and are exposed to multiple assaults over time — from various viruses to insulin resistance to leaky gut, and dozens of other insults — damaging mechanisms overtake repair mechanisms, resulting in a downsizing of the brain’s ability and subsequent cognitive decline.
Dr. Bredesen’s goal is to determine why each person has cognitive decline (or risk for decline), then target the root cause contributors to the decline, using a personalized, precision medicine protocol that changes the individual’s neurochemistry, providing optimal conditions for the brain to thrive.
Both the research and clinical outcomes suggest that treating Alzheimer’s is analogous to repairing a roof with 36 holes: treating the disease successfully requires addressing many aspects of the body at one time, as you would when repairing holes in a roof. The more holes you cover, the more success you have at fixing the problem. The amyloid hypothesis continues to target only the water damage, leaving the holes unpatched and resulting in hundreds of failed trials. Furthermore, the current standard in Alzheimer’s research is to treat Alzheimer’s disease blindly — in other words, treat with a drug that has nothing to do with what is causing the decline. That is an outdated approach that has already been replaced in other specialties, such as oncology, with precision medicine — targeting the drivers of the disease. It’s hard to understand why the Alzheimer’s research community clings to such an outdated approach.
Conversely, the program used by Dr. Bredesen and Apollo Health has led to unprecedented success in treating Alzheimer’s, as evidenced by the 1,000+ participants who’ve experienced improvements in their cognition.
When Is It Appropriate to Treat?
It is absolutely fair to be cautious about advocating new treatments before a large clinical trial has been conducted. Certainly, there are many scams out there that need to be avoided.
Dr. Bredesen, however, is conducting science in a time-proven manner by moving from a scientific theory born out of decades of work in the laboratory, resulting in over 200 peer-reviewed publications and then making the critical jump to clinical practice with case studies, more anecdotal reports, additional case studies, and now a clinical trial with pre-publication results to be shared in early 2021.
This slow process protects consumers from ineffective and potentially dangerous treatment options. But, should therapy be withheld when there is no risk to treatment and plenty of risk to inaction? Is it better to offer this promising treatment with no downsides or withhold that option and instead shuffle people into the alternative, which only assures inevitable cognitive decline and death?
Dr. Bredesen’s targeted solutions are not radical or risky. The major “side effect” from the protocol, which not only targets the drivers such as pathogens but includes eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting quality sleep, managing stress, keeping your brain active, avoiding toxins, and supplementing to avoid nutrient deficiencies, is better health — indeed, many of the participants find they no longer need their diabetes medications, anti-hypertensives or cholesterol-lowering drugs because their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol have normalized. Meanwhile, the standard treatment leads to certain decline. The risk of stalling treatment in favor of waiting for a miracle pill is immense. Yet, critics suggest waiting.
In medicine, there is a concept called compassionate use: when someone has a serious illness for which there is no effective treatment — which is exactly the case for Alzheimer’s disease — the use of a novel approach is often made available prior to its general acceptance. In 2021, after Dr. Bredesen’s trial results are made public, more people will likely be convinced of the program’s efficacy, but should treatment be withheld until then to appease those who have spent billions with nothing to show for it? For many with affected family members, that would be tantamount to abuse.
Transparency in Process
Some have accused Dr. Bredesen of failing to provide his methodology, which is somewhat difficult to understand. His methods were shared in the first report of the protocol in 2014 and have been even more fully disclosed in his book, “The End of Alzheimer’s” and follow-up book, “The End of Alzheimer’s Program.” Dr. Bredesen’s primary motive in writing the books was to make his protocol widely available. Additionally, full methodology will be shared in the upcoming publication of the clinical trial and is available now through the ReCODE 2.0 Training for medical practitioners. Currently, over 1500 physicians from ten different countries and all over the US have already learned the protocol and are using it with their patients.
The Finances of Treating Alzheimer’s
Some have argued that the Bredesen Protocol is expensive. On the face of it, the alternative — dying of Alzheimer’s — may seem less expensive. The few FDA medications that do nothing to change the disease’s progress are typically covered by insurance, as are follow-up appointments with a physician who has nothing to offer. What the critics fail to take into account is the fact that as a patient loses the ability to care for themselves, they need increasing support, which often means being cared for in a nursing facility. Statistics reveal that a typical Alzheimer’s patient ends up spending $350,000 after being diagnosed before they finally succumb to the disease. Health insurance and Medicare pay for no part of that until a patient has completely drained their assets and is eligible for Medicaid. The toll on caretakers and families is devastating and often leads to financial ruin. Thus, saving years of nursing home costs more than makes up for the initial cost for lab testing and the overall cost of the program.
While critics accuse Dr. Bredesen and Apollo Health of profiting from the dissemination of the protocol, Lance Kelly sets the record straight by revealing that the company currently operates at a deficit. Apollo Health is a Silicon Valley startup with 22 employees and several consultants. Their mission is to bring Dr. Bredesen’s solution to the marketplace at the lowest possible cost to the consumer. Apollo does not profit from the blood labs—which are in fact heavily discounted — nor do they profit from the fees charged by practitioners practicing the protocol. Their only sources of revenue are from the modest monthly subscription fees and practitioner training. Currently, the company has approximately 12 investors and is working on closing its Series A financing.
Obstacles to Success
As a startup, Apollo Health has inherited the problem of practitioners who’ve been previously trained by other organizations and have chosen not to use Apollo Health’s services. Some of these practitioners use Dr. Bredesen’s name for marketing purposes, then implement their own “improved” plans roughly based on their understanding of Dr. Bredesen’s science, often charging exorbitant prices for their services. Both Dr. Bredesen and Apollo Health acknowledge this issue and are working to educate participants, better train practitioners, and tighten up their certification process to ensure that only efficacious practitioners are referred to participants interested in signing up for the program.
While the current standard of care guarantees failure, Dr. Bredesen explained that the protocol cannot guarantee success — many respond, but some do not, and this depends on factors such as how late the protocol is initiated, what factors are driving the cognitive decline, and adherence to the protocol. When asked about this, Dr. Bredesen responded, “We are saddened when anyone fails to respond, and we are working to understand why some respond so well but others do not.” Dr. Bredesen went on to explain that the earlier in the disease process that the protocol is initiated, the more closely it is followed, and the fewer contributors to cognitive decline the participant has, the more effective the protocol can be. Although, he did describe several well documented cases of response late in the disease process, he cautioned that this is not the norm. Dr. Bredesen continued, “Unfortunately, some have chosen to implement bits and pieces instead of the entire protocol, and this is usually not successful. Those with cognitive decline, are in for the fight of their lives, and need to pull out all the stops to give the best hope for a positive outcome.”
Apollo Health and Dr. Bredesen have worked to create a software algorithm that uses results from laboratory tests, medical questionnaires, and a battery of cognitive assessments, and derives a 50-60 page personalized ReCODE Report that provides medical information to assist the practitioner in following the protocol to ensure best outcomes.
The Choice Should Be Yours
Healthcare is currently undergoing a transformation from twentieth-century medicine to twenty-first-century medicine. Twentieth-century medicine relies upon information from small data sets for traditional diagnoses, which do not address why the illness is present. This one-size-fits-all approach has so far been unsuccessful in treating chronic illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease. This brings us to the transition to twenty-first-century medicine, which uses large data sets to identify changes in the human body’s network that characterize chronic illnesses, revealing the “why” for each individual and address the cause of each contributing condition in a comprehensive, personalized, pragmatic way.
Ultimately, you should have the choice when it comes to your health. If the ineffective standard treatment for Alzheimer’s isn’t a good fit, you have the option to explore an alternative.
- If you’re intrigued but want to wait for Dr. Bredesen’s next study results, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be notified as soon as they post.
- If you want to learn more about Dr. Bredesen’s science, read the Bredesen Protocol.
- Learn more about Apollo Health’s Solutions for preventing and reversing cognitive decline.
- If the Apollo Health programs are too expensive, consider purchasing Dr. Bredesen’s most recent book, “The End of Alzheimer’s Program”.
- See success stories from participants in Testimonials.