Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a looming health crisis and, according to the US Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately six million people in the US aged 65 or older living with AD. This number is projected to nearly triple by 2060. It is estimated that the cost associated with treating the disease in the US could reach $500 billion annually by 2040.
There is no cure for AD, but focused ultrasound, a revolutionary medical technology, is a novel approach to noninvasively open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in the hopes of clearing amyloid plaques and tau proteins, hypothesized to be a possible cause for AD. Opening the BBB with focused ultrasound may also provide a method to facilitate the delivery of medications that alone cannot cross the BBB, and/or to allow for increased concentrations of drugs to reach the desired target.
In recognition of World Alzheimer’s Day this September, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation partnered with George Vradenburg, chairman and co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, and John R. Dwyer, Jr., president of the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation, to host a webinar on focused ultrasound for Alzheimer’s disease.
The primary speaker was Sandra Black, OC, O.Ont., MD, FRSC, renowned neurologist, senior scientist, and director of the Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto. Dr. Black discussed the current status of AD treatments and the potential of focused ultrasound to overcome current barriers.
Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, director of the Harquail Centre of Neuromodulation at Sunnybrook, and a leading researcher in focused ultrasound and AD, provided an overview of progress with focused ultrasound and AD, highlighting current clinical trials.
Insightec’s Chief Strategic Innovation Officer Arjun (JJ) Desai, MD, highlighted the innovative Florida Brain State Initiative, a collaboration between three prominent medical schools, state government, and industry (Insightec) to fund a multicenter focused ultrasound clinical trial for AD.
Finally, a live Q&A with the speakers and John Dwyer was moderated by the Foundation’s Director of Clinical Relationships Suzanne LeBlang, MD, and George Vradenburg.
Sandra Black, OC, O.Ont., MD, FRSC
Neurologist, Senior Scientist, and Director of the Dr. Sandra Black Centre for Brain Resilience & Recovery
Sunnybrook Research Institute
Nir Lipsman, MD, PhD
Neurosurgeon and Director of the Harquail Centre of Neuromodulation
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Arjun (JJ) Desai, MD
Chief Strategic Innovation Officer
John R. Dwyer, Jr.
Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation
John R. Dwyer, Jr., is the President of the Global Alzheimer’s Platform (GAP) Foundation, a patient-centric nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of reducing the time and cost while improving the quality and diversity of AD and other central nervous system therapeutic clinical studies. Prior to GAP, he served as the co-founder and Chairman of Telcare, Inc. (Phillips Medisize), a high technology manufacturer of the first wirelessly enabled blood glucose meter system empowering patients with diabetes to better manage their disease. Mr. Dwyer co-founded Us Against Alzheimer’s, a patient advocacy group focused on changing the way the country addresses the threat posed by Alzheimer’s. He also cofounded the first political action committee focused on a specific disease, the Alzheimer’s Action PAC. He is a graduate of Marquette University and the Cornell Law School.
Chairman and Co-founder
George Vradenburg is the Chairman and Co-Founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s (UsA2), a disruptive and catalytic force committed to stopping Alzheimer’s by 2025. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, a coalition focused on driving global scientific, business, policy, and financial coordination in Alzheimer’s preparedness that was co-convened in January 2020 by the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease and the World Economic Forum. In this role, Mr. Vradenburg provides general oversight and advocacy and works to ensure the Collaborative remains sustainable and action-oriented. In 2011, the United States Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services named himto serve on the National Alzheimer’s Advisory Council on Research, Care, and Services for the first-of-its-kind National Alzheimer’s Strategic Plan. He received his BA from Oberlin College, magna cum laude, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and his JD from Harvard Law School, cum laude.