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  • In the year 1901,

  • a woman called Auguste was taken to a medical asylum in Frankfurt.

  • Auguste was delusional

  • and couldn't remember even the most basic details of her life.

  • Her doctor was called Alois.

  • Alois didn't know how to help Auguste,

  • but he watched over her until, sadly, she passed away in 1906.

  • After she died, Alois performed an autopsy

  • and found strange plaques and tangles in Auguste's brain --

  • the likes of which he'd never seen before.

  • Now here's the even more striking thing.

  • If Auguste had instead been alive today,

  • we could offer her no more help than Alois was able to 114 years ago.

  • Alois was Dr. Alois Alzheimer.

  • And Auguste Deter

  • was the first patient to be diagnosed with what we now call Alzheimer's disease.

  • Since 1901, medicine has advanced greatly.

  • We've discovered antibiotics and vaccines to protect us from infections,

  • many treatments for cancer, antiretrovirals for HIV,

  • statins for heart disease and much more.

  • But we've made essentially no progress at all in treating Alzheimer's disease.

  • I'm part of a team of scientists

  • who has been working to find a cure for Alzheimer's for over a decade.

  • So I think about this all the time.

  • Alzheimer's now affects 40 million people worldwide.

  • But by 2050, it will affect 150 million people --

  • which, by the way, will include many of you.

  • If you're hoping to live to be 85 or older,

  • your chance of getting Alzheimer's will be almost one in two.

  • In other words, odds are you'll spend your golden years

  • either suffering from Alzheimer's

  • or helping to look after a friend or loved one with Alzheimer's.

  • Already in the United States alone,

  • Alzheimer's care costs 200 billion dollars every year.

  • One out of every five Medicare dollars get spent on Alzheimer's.

  • It is today the most expensive disease,

  • and costs are projected to increase fivefold by 2050,

  • as the baby boomer generation ages.

  • It may surprise you that, put simply,

  • Alzheimer's is one of the biggest medical and social challenges of our generation.

  • But we've done relatively little to address it.

  • Today, of the top 10 causes of death worldwide,

  • Alzheimer's is the only one we cannot prevent, cure or even slow down.

  • We understand less about the science of Alzheimer's than other diseases

  • because we've invested less time and money into researching it.

  • The US government spends 10 times more every year

  • on cancer research than on Alzheimer's

  • despite the fact that Alzheimer's costs us more

  • and causes a similar number of deaths each year as cancer.

  • The lack of resources stems from a more fundamental cause:

  • a lack of awareness.

  • Because here's what few people know but everyone should:

  • Alzheimer's is a disease, and we can cure it.

  • For most of the past 114 years,

  • everyone, including scientists, mistakenly confused Alzheimer's with aging.

  • We thought that becoming senile

  • was a normal and inevitable part of getting old.

  • But we only have to look at a picture

  • of a healthy aged brain compared to the brain of an Alzheimer's patient

  • to see the real physical damage caused by this disease.

  • As well as triggering severe loss of memory and mental abilities,

  • the damage to the brain caused by Alzheimer's

  • significantly reduces life expectancy and is always fatal.

  • Remember Dr. Alzheimer found strange plaques and tangles

  • in Auguste's brain a century ago.

  • For almost a century, we didn't know much about these.

  • Today we know they're made from protein molecules.

  • You can imagine a protein molecule

  • as a piece of paper that normally folds into an elaborate piece of origami.

  • There are spots on the paper that are sticky.

  • And when it folds correctly, these sticky bits end up on the inside.

  • But sometimes things go wrong, and some sticky bits are on the outside.

  • This causes the protein molecules to stick to each other,

  • forming clumps that eventually become large plaques and tangles.

  • That's what we see in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

  • We've spent the past 10 years at the University of Cambridge

  • trying to understand how this malfunction works.

  • There are many steps, and identifying which step to try to block is complex --

  • like defusing a bomb.

  • Cutting one wire might do nothing.

  • Cutting others might make the bomb explore.

  • We have to find the right step to block,

  • and then create a drug that does it.

  • Until recently, we for the most part

  • have been cutting wires and hoping for the best.

  • But now we've got together a diverse group of people --

  • medics, biologists, geneticists, chemists, physicists, engineers and mathematicians.

  • And together, we've managed to identify a critical step in the process

  • and are now testing a new class of drugs which would specifically block this step

  • and stop the disease.

  • Now let me show you some of our latest results.

  • No one outside of our lab has seen these yet.

  • Let's look at some videos of what happened when we tested these new drugs in worms.

  • So these are healthy worms,

  • and you can see they're moving around normally.

  • These worms, on the other hand,

  • have protein molecules sticking together inside them --

  • like humans with Alzheimer's.

  • And you can see they're clearly sick.

  • But if we give our new drugs to these worms at an early stage,

  • then we see that they're healthy, and they live a normal lifespan.

  • This is just an initial positive result, but research like this

  • shows us that Alzheimer's is a disease that we can understand and we can cure.

  • After 114 years of waiting,

  • there's finally real hope for what can be achieved

  • in the next 10 or 20 years.

  • But to grow that hope, to finally beat Alzheimer's, we need help.

  • This isn't about scientists like me --

  • it's about you.

  • We need you to raise awareness that Alzheimer's is a disease

  • and that if we try, we can beat it.

  • In the case of other diseases,

  • patients and their families have led the charge for more research

  • and put pressure on governments, the pharmaceutical industry,

  • scientists and regulators.

  • That was essential for advancing treatment for HIV in the late 1980s.

  • Today, we see that same drive to beat cancer.

  • But Alzheimer's patients are often unable to speak up for themselves.

  • And their families, the hidden victims, caring for their loved ones night and day,

  • are often too worn out to go out and advocate for change.

  • So, it really is down to you.

  • Alzheimer's isn't, for the most part, a genetic disease.

  • Everyone with a brain is at risk.

  • Today, there are 40 million patients like Auguste,

  • who can't create the change they need for themselves.

  • Help speak up for them,

  • and help demand a cure.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

In the year 1901,

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B1 TED alzheimer disease cure brain protein

【TED】Alzheimer’s Is Not Normal Aging — And We Can Cure It | Samuel Cohen | TED Talks

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    Max Lin posted on 2016/01/16
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