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Vaccine revolution: Curing Alzheimer's from the inside
Could Alzheimer's be prevented with a simple vaccine? This startup posits that it can.
Lou Reese is a co-founder and a member of United Neuroscience's Board of Directors. He currently serves as C_O of United Neuroscience. Lou co-founded an investment and advisory firm with active investments in real estate, energy, hospitality, and life sciences. His investments focus on achieving global impact in critical important areas through innovative models and approaches. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and attended Columbia Business School.
Lou Reese: Humanity has always been propelled by dramatic innovation.
In the 20s and 30s we knew that we would run out of food by the 70s. We invented a nitrogen phosphorus potassium based fertilizer and that created the green revolution that now can feed everybody on the planet.
These are always solutions that create, like that are driven by an unbelievable ecosystem, an unbelievable need and the unending and unyielding spirit of innovation that defines humanity. So those things combined are what make it so exciting.
So if we look at the cost of Alzheimer’s, if we look at the cost of – and this isn’t all neurological disorders, this is just Alzheimer’s—if we look at those costs direct and indirect we’re spending as much taking care of people with Alzheimer’s every year as an Iraq war. So the magnitude of these numbers is astronomical.
So like these numbers are devastating and we could all be pretty morose about it. The reality is that I’ve never felt more optimistic to be alive. I’ve never felt better about the environment that we’re in in terms of solving problems, being able to identify them, being able to direct resources to them.
This year for the first time since the Spanish flu we’ll have three years in a row of decreasing longevity in the United States. We will live less long three years in a row. Less long than ever and everybody else believes that we’re living longer and longer and longer. It’s driven primarily by two things, and primarily Alzheimer’s is the number one driver in this. And the secondary driver unfortunately is drug overdoses and suicides. It’s related to the opioid epidemic.
We’re actually developing products for both of those primary problems, for both of those decreasers in longevity.
So we’re working on a suite of non-opioid pain alternatives but our lead compound is a vaccine for Alzheimer’s.
And what that does is it means that we can really turn on the body’s immune system and enable it to fight toxic proteins that it’s generating itself. And what’s special about that to me is that the largest gains, back to this longevity idea, the largest gains in human longevity ever are debatably attributed to vaccine technology.
Now some people you can also argue, sanitation was very important. The antibiotic revolution was very important. But vaccine technology is—currently over 6.2 billion people in the world have been vaccinated right now. These are the most widely distributed medications and solutions that have ever been brought to mankind. And the consequence was that we really dramatically improved our quality of life and our longevity. We gave people better, healthier, long lives.
And now the big problem with vaccines is that you could never use them against non-external targets. So they worked great with viruses whether it was Ebola or Zika, polio, smallpox. We actually can solve those problems pretty fast for the external targets.
But now what’s killing us more than everything external are actually for the first time this year the bar crossed and internal things are killing us more. So the agents of chronic illness.
So it’s no longer fighting bacteria and viruses and these other external causes of death or causes of suffering or causes of disease. Instead it’s internal ones. It’s things that are causing atherosclerosis and heart disease and stroke. Things that are causing cancers. Things that are causing diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s. All of these different chronic illnesses. Now why don’t we vaccinate against chronic illness?
Well the idea is that you’d be fundamentally targeting something that’s in your own body, right? Like you’d be targeting something your body was making. And so what does that sound like? It sounds like an autoimmune disease. It sounds like if you made your body do that it could trigger an autoimmune disease.
And it turns out that that’s one of the big challenges in making vaccines against things your body generates. And they call that the self-barrier, or breaking self-tolerance, or all of these like different things that describe this phenomena.
But the bottom line is the body does not like to attack itself and it’s trying not to. And for millions of years our immune systems evolved so that we don’t do exactly that.
Now what’s awesome is that our technology platform has been able to do it and do it safely and we’ve been able to do it in a lot of applications.
To me this is our Sputnik moment. This is my generation’s opportunity to say for the first time the ecosystem, the pieces, the motivation, the goals are there. We’re aligning around this and we have an absolute opportunity to make a dramatic impact. And it’ll be that village, it’ll be that ecosystem that ultimately achieves the goal.
When we put people on the moon—and I tell my team this all the time—no one person put someone on the moon. There were over a thousand different companies that were all involved, full time, going a thousand miles an hour. There were companies that were making the screens, there were companies making the knobs, there were companies making the wiring systems, the rocket engines. There were companies making the external heat deflectors. These are so many little details, and without all of them it doesn’t work.
So when we go after things that are really big goals and when we go after huge problems it’s that village, it’s that ecosystem that’s solves it, and I really have a firm belief that this is like the greatest time that we could possibly be alive, and solving these problems are some of the greatest problems facing mankind, but they’re also, you know, we’ve never had a better chance of solving them. So I feel like it’s a really great time.
Could Alzheimer's—a devastating degenerative disease that affects millions of people a year—be prevented with a simple vaccine? Lou Reese, the co-founder of start-up United Neuroscience, believes that it's a very real possibility that we could see within our lifetime. And it might even help us live longer, because as Lou puts it, "the largest gains in human longevity ever are debatably attributed to vaccine technology."
Join multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light live on Big Think at 2 pm ET on Monday.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.