Alzheimer’s and Cancer: Future Hopes, Current Research

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 07 July 2011

Six years ago, scientist Eva Vertes gave a lecture on her vision for the future of medicine, specifically understanding the roots of cancer and Alzheimer’s, and of course, how to cure these diseases.

She talked about stem cells, organ/tissue damage, repair responses, cell differentiation, metastases, and other complex medical & scientific concepts with ease and with passion, impressing the physical and virtual audience who watched the TED.com video presentation of her lecture, which she delivered at the age of 19.

Watch the video here:

I learned about Vertes in this recent blog post, which featured summaries of/links to 10 fascinating TED talks on aging, selected for their progressive approach to untangling/combating age-related diseases and conditions. An intriguing thought is presented to readers in the intro of this piece:  “Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes and more could eventually fade to nothing someday thanks to the painstaking research by innovative professionals.”

Imagine that?!

Vertes, who was named for her grandmother, a chemist who died of stomach cancer at the age of 44, is a cancer researcher who is currently working towards her M.D. at the University of Florida. She’s also part of an Emmy-nominated web series from NOVA, called “The Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers.”  Thus far, this prodigy’s work towards an Alzheimer’s cure includes the discovery of special properties in RPI-069, a chemical compound responsible for preventing brain cell death in fruit flies; she’s also studying the correlation between stem cells and brain cancer.

Certainly a view of the Eva Vertes presentation gives us hope for the future of medicine, hope that devastating diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s may eventually be a thing of the past.

In the meantime, here’s a look at some of the latest breakthroughs in the Alzheimer’s and cancer research worlds:

Currently, about 5.4 million people in the US are living with Alzheimer’s, and nearly 12 million have cancer. Want to do something about it? Participate in a clinical trial, either as a healthy volunteer or as someone living with either disease. Search for studies seeking participants at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Talk back: Do you think scientists will be able to eradicate diseases like cancer & Alzheimer’s someday?


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