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UC San Diego Clinical Trial To Assess Safety, Effectiveness Of Alzheimer's Treatment

UC San Diego's School of Medicine is shown in this undated photo.
Milan Kovacevic
UC San Diego's School of Medicine is shown in this undated photo.
Scientists at UC San Diego Health are soon to see whether a treatment for Alzheimer's disease they have been working on for more than 15 years is really as promising as it appears now.

The brains of people with full-blown dementia or even mild cognitive impairment lack a certain protein called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF.

BDNF supports existing neurons and promotes the growth of new ones.

Now researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine have advanced their study of this protein to the point where they're ready for a first-in-human clinical trial of a gene therapy treatment. The treatment will place healthy BDNF into a harmless virus, which will then carry the protein to specific areas of the brain.


The therapy has the potential to slow down brain cell death and generate new cells, thereby improving memory.

Dr. Mark Tuszynski, a UC San Diego professor of neuroscience and principal investigator of the clinical trial, talked with KPBS Midday Edition about the trial and what comes next after this initial phase.