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Alzheimer's Disease
Slowing or preventing memory loss for 4.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's

"There has been a revolution in our understanding of neurological diseases," says Dr. Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize winner and Distinguished University Professor of Physiology and Cell Biophysics, Psychiatry, and Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia.

Dr. Kandel, a world-renowned expert on the brain and memory storage, explains that work with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients has given doctors a great anatomical understanding of human memory, and allowed them to identify the genes involved in these diseases.

By recreating these gene properties in mice, researchers have been able to learn about the mechanisms controlling these diseases, and to respond to these mechanisms with treatments.

Similarly, mice naturally display age-related memory loss analogous to that in humans. By observing this natural memory loss in mice, researchers see where the animal's memory storage capacity goes "wrong". Dr. Kandel's own laboratory was able to devise drugs that reversed both the cause of the memory loss and the behavior associated with memory loss in mice.

Having gained invaluable knowledge from the research, Dr. Kandel and Columbia started a biotechnology company called Memory Pharmaceuticals that is now conducting clinical trials with an investigational therapy to potentially help restore memory and forestall the onset of Alzheimer's— thereby working to eradicate some of the most crippling and costly effects of this devastating neurological disorder.

Alzheimer's sufferers experience memory loss that is more sudden and traumatic than what is considered "normal," age-related loss of memory. Dr. Kandel and his colleagues are developing animal models to better understand how Alzheimer's disease attacks the brain, to isolate the related gene, and to find a way to reverse memory loss. In the future, perhaps even cell degeneration can be reversed.
© 2005 Columbia University