For more than a century, people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have been condemned to a relentless slide into dementia. Experts stress that there is no cure for this devastating condition. Even the drugs that FDA has approved for treatment help only a little, slowing the progression of cognitive decline. Although the agency approved a new drug recently, aducanumab (Aduhelm) has been shown to reduce beta amyloid plaque in the brain. However, patients who take it have not experienced recovery of their cognitive function. Consequently, it is a wonderful surprise to learn about the first survivors of Alzheimer’s. This show airs 8/21/2021 at 7 am EDT.
Who Are the First Survivors of Alzheimer’s?
Dr. Dale Bredesen has been studying Alzheimer’s disease for decades. Instead of a single risk factor, he has uncovered more than three dozen. IN the first place, he presents evidence that this neurodegenerative condition is a network disorder. He has developed personalized precision medicine protocols that address specific deficits for individual patients. The first survivors of Alzheimer’s have implemented the protocols and reversed their cognitive decline.
The success these first survivors of Alzheimer’s have had in reducing their symptoms suggests that these protocols might also be useful for prevention even before symptoms become noticeable, or at least before a person is diagnosed with “mild cognitive impairment.” What might one do?
Dr. Sally’s Story:
Dr. Sally Weinrich, a nurse scientist and educator, had reason to fear she was headed for dementia. When she heard about Dr. Bredesen’s protocols on a previous People’s Pharmacy episode, she got in touch with him. Undergoing an assessment (cognoscopy) and addressing the multiple risk factors she discovered was difficult, but it has paid off. You will want to hear her tell her story.
This Week’s Guests:
Dale Bredesen, MD, is an internationally recognized expert in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. He is a Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA. Dr. Bredesen is also the founding President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the Co-founder of MPI Cognition. Dr. Bredesen is the author of the New York Time’s best seller The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. His new book is The First Survivors of Alzheimer’s: How Patients Recovered Life and Hope in Their Own Words.
Dr. Sally Weinrich is a 73-year-old retired nursing researcher from South Carolina. Before Sally retired in 2008, she was nationally and internationally known for her successful research with prostate cancer screening and African American men in South Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia. With her previous background in genetic cancer research, Sally believed she was at genetic risk for Alzheimer’s. She had a history of positive Alzheimer’s in both her mother’s and father’s side of her family. Sally dreaded and feared developing Alzheimer’s. As a nurse, Sally had cared for Alzheimer’s patients and witnessed the harsh reality of there never being enough time or easy solutions to the many complex issues involved with caring for Alzheimer’s patients.
Becoming one of the first survivors of Alzheimer’s:
Sally first heard about Dr. Bredesen’s ReCODE program on People’s Pharmacy in December, 2015. She completed her first cognoscopy in July, 2016. Her cognoscopy revealed that she was positive on most of the 36 risk factors that Dr. Bredesen had identified at that time.
Sally had five of the six types of Alzheimer’s as described by Dr. Bredesen: inflammatory, glycotoxic, atrophic, inhalational toxins, and traumatic. Moreover, she was positive for one copy of the ApoE4, also known as the Alzheimer’s gene.
Sally gradually implemented all of the ReCODE program over approximately 12 months. Today, five years later, Sally is very grateful for her functioning brain and the many things that she can now do.
When Sally first started having memory problems (and before she had heard about Dr. Bredesen), she actively sought out Alzheimer’s research for answers. In September, 2015, Sally enrolled in a national trial. She learned that the PET scan of her brain was positive for beta amyloid plaques. In addition, the researchers told her that she would inevitably develop Alzheimer’s (advanced) within 10 – 15 years, based on the presence of the beta amyloid plaques. The randomized controlled drug trial was testing if a specific drug could remove the beta amyloid plaques from the brain.
With her research background, Sally devised a simple objective method to 1) determine if she was in the intervention or control and 2) test the effects of the monthly infusion on her brain. Before and after each IV infusion, Sally would subtract 7 from 100 (or alternatively 101, 102, or 103). She would then measure and record 1) if she could subtract correctly and 2) how long the subtraction took (in minutes). Sally had great hopes that her subtraction scores would improve. Unfortunately, Sally realized that her subtraction scores were becoming more inaccurate and taking longer to subtract after each infusion. After eight monthly IV infusions, Sally accepted that the IV infusions were causing problems that included increased confusion, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. As a result, Sally withdrew from the study temporarily and then permanently three months later.
Listen to the Podcast:
The podcast of this program will be available Monday, August 23, 2021, after broadcast on August 21. You can stream the show online from this site and download the podcast for free. The podcast of this episode contains our lengthy interviews with both Dr. Bredesen and Dr. Weinrich.
Download the free mp3