How Israel is working to make brain research practical
“I’m an anomaly,” tells us Professor Michal Beeri, neuroscientist at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center. “I’m a researcher whose never worked in a university environment, I’ve always conducted my research in hospitals.” As such, Beeri, who’s research focuses on prevention of Alzheimer’s, is always focused on the ultimate implementation of any research on patients. “There are a number of times that doctoral or post-doc students at universities have come to me with really outstanding ideas, and they have no clue how to take them to the level of practical implementation. It’s really a shame there are potentially lifesaving ideas that may fall through these cracks.”
So what’s the solution? Bring everyone together, and bridge the “translation gap.” “This is what Israel Brain Technologies (IBT) is doing, and this is why I’m telling all my colleagues about the upcoming Israel BrainTech 2013 conference and why it’s so important to be there,” says Beeri. “This is not just ‘another conference’ about this or that area of research, this event is about bringing together in the same room researchers, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, and companies – the parties who can work together, take great ideas, and ultimately bring them to patients.”
Beeri and her colleagues at the Sagol Neuroscience Network will be participating in cocktail at the end of the first day of the event hosted by Mr. Sami Sagol, and she hopes to see faces there from all directions of the brain technology sphere.
Beeri’s research is in the Cognitive Aging arena, and focuses on the prevention of Alzheimer’s. Prevention, rather than treatment, will hold the key in our fight against this terrible disease, according to Beeri. “When we see an Alzheimer’s patient in the very first stages of the disease, the pathology is already very damaged, many of the healthy neurons the patient had have already died.” Beeri notes that pharmaceutical companies tested many Alzheimer’s treatments which worked on animals, but ultimately failed in human trials.
“We’re turning every stone to understand ways of reaching people prone to Alzheimer’s before the first symptoms appear. We already know that there is a connection between Alzheimer’s and Diabetes, something that has been proven in numerous studies.” Another major target group of the disease is people over 90, and Beeri reminds us that this group is the world’s largest growing population segment, and also the one we know least about.
One of Beeri’s main projects is the building of the Israel Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention. This large scale study follows children of Alzheimer’s patients, who are at higher risk for the disease, and conducts very thorough tests on them over time, including MRI, blood tests, lifestyle examinations etc. in order to identify risk factors that can be modified ahead of time. Beeri hopes this model will be replicated in other countries. Thus with many thousands of people studied in different places, we will learn how to identify people at high risk for the disease, and stop the disease essentially before it starts, and becomes virtually impossible to treat.
For more on the Israel BrainTech 2013 event click here.
Source: Israel Brain Technologies