Our Breakthrough Technology Tracks the Prions in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Brain Science 101
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are closely related to Mad Cow disease and share the characteristic of spreading and multiplying within the brain of affected people.
Our body is made up of cells. And cells are made up of molecules of different types. Of these types, proteins serve highly critical and diverse roles, both structural and functional.
Think of proteins as the foot soldiers of cells. They do all the work.
Encoded directly by our genes (DNA), healthy normal proteins work by folding into particular stable three-dimensional shapes.
Under circumstances related to genetics, environment, general health and brain aging, some proteins may misfold into non-functional or even toxic forms, known as Prions (aka misfolded proteins or prion-proteins).
Prions can replicate autonomously within the body and eventually take on a life of their own. When Prions reach a critical mass in the brain, they trigger destruction of neurons in our brain, causing neurodegenerative diseases associated with the loss of higher brain functions.
When this happens, it fundamentally changes who we are as people. Both our cognitive abilities and motor skills may be negatively affected. How we think, speak, act, move becomes compromised… Our memories are blurred.
In short, we become a different person. Some of the commonly known prion-related neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Neurodegenerative diseases cause permanent, irreversible damages to the brain. This is because the brain has very limited capacity to repair damaged neurons.
Simply Put, Prions Are Proteins Gone Rogue. Knowing the Enemy Empowers Us to Stop Them in Their Tracks. Early.
Each Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s patient may have unique forms of Prions. This is similar to each lung cancer patient showing unique gene mutations.
Prions have an alarming ability to replicate and spread throughout the brain and the body, by causing normal proteins in every cell to misfold and turn into Prions, thereby multiplying exponentially. They operate in stealth with incubation periods as long as several decades.
A single Prion can replicate over time to fill the brain with its progeny and trigger massive neuronal loss. To date, three unique Prions have been discovered to cause the most common neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. They are:
In movie speak, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Prions are rogue agents, with the ability to grow an underground army and spread widely. They are silent, deadly, and mobile.
Silent because they can exist under the radar for a long period of time, without being detected. Deadly due to their ability to “turn” other good guys to join them. In the end, they amass an über army, ready to strike from anywhere and take control when the time comes. And when they do, defeat ensues insidiously from within, as no one sees it coming.
This is how prion-diseases work in simple terms.
Lack of Early Detection Means No Effective Treatments
Early diagnosis for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is absolutely critical because symptoms occur only after a long incubation period and irreversible brain damage has occurred.
The lack of accurate early detection is the primary reason there is not even a single drug that passed FDA for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in the past 30 years, despite pharmaceutical companies spending over $100 billion in clinical trials, research, and development.
Bottom Line: We cannot develop effective treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s until we track the biomarkers that can slow — or even reverse—these neurodegenerative diseases.
We must find a cure before we lose another generation.
- Every 33 seconds, one American will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2050, adding to the millions of existing patients that as of yet have no cure.
- The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to grow to 20 million by 2050.
- The number of people with Parkinson’s in the world will double by 2042 to more than 12 million according to scientists’ predications.
- The medical/ hospice care for these patients is estimated to cost $200,000/person/year or $4 trillion/year.
- Countries such as China will have a much bigger problem with an estimated 100 million people with Alzheimer’s by 2050. Care for these patients is estimated at $20 trillion per year.
So accurate early detection for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is critical because it leads to finding the cure. Better yet: preventive care.
Consider cancer and heart disease—Recent breakthroughs in early detection in both cases have led to dramatic increase in survival rates, as well as wellness prevention.
But this is not the case for neurodegenerative disease.
So why are Prions, the bad actors that cause Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, so challenging to detect? For starters, they look in many ways like the normally folded proteins from which they are derived. Second, although the major damage observed is in the brain, Prions are carried in the blood and can be sequestered in many different cells throughout the body. Finally, since a tiny amount of Prions in the brain is all it takes to cause devastating effects, even the most sensitive detection methods currently available are often insufficient.
In short, the combination of low levels in the brain, sequestration in many cell types distant from the brain, and stealth nature makes Prions extremely challenging to detect, especially in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.