It was 1906 in the city of Tübingen, when German physician Dr. Aloïs Alzheimer reported the case of Auguste D., a woman who had displayed such severe memory loss that it affected her ability to perform the tasks of daily living. A postmortem analysis of Auguste’s brain revealed distinct yet unusual lesions. And while not certain how, Alzheimer suspected these abnormal lesions were linked to a rare form of dementia.
More than a century later, Alzheimer’s disease is anything but rare and its toll on our aging population is about to reach cataclysmic proportions. It’s estimated that if the course of the disease is not slowed or halted, the number of Americans affected will grow from 5 million (2017) to more than 16 million individuals by 2050. That’s one in three people over the age of 65 who will be living with Alzheimer’s disease.
The socioeconomic impact: a cost of one trillion dollars annually. Add to that a health care system that is already overwhelmed and ill-equipped to support families and caregivers, and you have a multifaceted crisis.
But according to Dr. Sylvain Lesné, things are not all gloom and doom! Like doctors Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur who discovered the principles of bacterial infection and were able to leverage their knowledge to treat and prevent infection, scientists throughout the world are working tirelessly to identify and understand the source of memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease.
“Knowledge is power and my University of Minnesota colleagues and I are using our expanding understanding of Alzheimer’s disease in hopes of preventing, curbing, and/or halting this memory-robbing disease.”
Join us October 5 when Lesné discusses recent developments in Alzheimer’s disease research, including what he and his team believe are missing pieces to the puzzle and where we may be headed in the near and more-distant future.
Sylvain Lesné, PhD, MS, Université de Caen, is an Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota where he also is an Institute for Translational Neuroscience Scholar and the Associate Director of the N. Bud Grossman Center for Memory Research and Care. The primary research goal of the laboratory that bears his name is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms triggered by proteins aggregating abnormally in cerebral brain tissues during the course of neurodegenerative disorders, with a specific focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Empowered by this knowledge, the Lesné Lab aims to develop therapeutic strategies to counter the action of these molecules in preclinical models of the disease. The author of numerous articles, Lesné identified a novel amyloid-beta assembly, and his paper on this is recognized as one the inaugural selections for the Medical School’s Wall of Scholarship. The honorees, whose selected paper must be cited more than 1,000 times (according to at least two of the three major academic indices), are considered leaders in the University’s commitment to research excellence.
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