Dale E. Bredesen, M.D., is arguably the leading neuroscience researcher on Alzheimer’s and Singleton Chair in Neurology at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute. His ground-breaking work can be explored in his book, The End of Alzheimer’s Program: The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age and through the new Alzheimer’s doc, Memories for Life streaming now on Apple and Amazon. Here’s Dr. Bredesen about the new documentary…
Memories For Life: The Important Alzheimer’s Doc To Watch Now
How many of us would like to avoid Alzheimer’s? Probably all of us, but repeatedly we have been told that “there is nothing that will prevent, reverse, or delay Alzheimer’s disease.” About 45 million of the currently living Americans will die of Alzheimer’s disease if effective treatment and prevention are not developed—a number that dwarfs the 1.1 million deaths from COVID-19. And although many think of Alzheimer’s as “Oldtimer’s,” the earliest changes on PET scans can show up in your 20s and 30s, even though the diagnosis may not be made until decades later. To make a scary situation even worse, those who have had Covid are at increased risk for the development of Alzheimer’s.
Pharmaceutical companies have poured billions of dollars into the development and testing of drug candidates for Alzheimer’s, but there is still nothing that will lead to sustainable improvement, and the recent “success” stories refer only to modest slowing (only 11% in women), not to any cognitive improvement. The lack of efficacy in drug candidate after candidate has led some pharma companies to scrub their entire Alzheimer’s programs. Indeed, the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases—from Alzheimer’s to Lewy body disease to ALS and many others—has been the area of greatest biomedical therapeutic failure. As science writer Linda Marsa said, “I don’t think we have ever seen a failure in scientific research on this massive a scale.”
We need a breath of fresh air—some good news for all of us! And an unusual combination—a Canadian singer and a Japanese filmmaker—may be providing just that, in a new documentary entitled Memories for Life—Reversing Alzheimer’s. Canadian Grammy Award-winning singer Michael Bublé is well known for his Christmas carols and smooth voice, but, as he explained in a recent interview, watching Alzheimer’s disease in his own family made him determined to help, which is why he took on the task of narrating the film.
Japanese filmmaker Hideyuki Tokigawa became interested in the subject several years ago, because Japan, as the country with the greatest longevity in the world, has designated Alzheimer’s as the number one concern for its aging citizens. Together, the filmmaker and the singer delve into the remarkable stories of the first patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, told that nothing could be done, then reversed their cognitive decline. A government agent who watched her mother die of Alzheimer’s and then, when she began to develop the same symptoms, hoarded pills so that she would be able to commit suicide; an attorney who began using the wrong words and found out that she carried a key Alzheimer’s gene; a physician who was told she only had 20% of normal memory; a nursing instructor who was diagnosed after forgetting her grandchildren, and then failed a drug trial; and others, are all featured in the new documentary.
Not surprisingly, skepticism and pushback against the research that led to these unprecedented results are also portrayed, and the filmmaker does an excellent job of telling both sides of the story. As one of the patients, who has sustained her improvement for several years now, said of the skeptical physicians, “They don’t hear it because they are not ready to hear it.” And as one of the physicians who has successfully utilized the new approach described in the documentary said, “I need you to know that dementia is not a death sentence.” Each of us can judge for ourselves whether the Director has indeed made his case.