Virtual Symposium Explores Causes of Alzheimer's Disease


June 24, 2021

Dr. Balin's research focuses on the causes of Alzheimer's DiseaseOn Tuesday, June 15, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (PCOM) Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging (CCDA) hosted a free virtual Alzheimer’s symposium titled “Before Amyloid-Beta: Exploring Pre-Pathology Events in Alzheimer’s.” This four-hour event covered topics such as infection in the brain, mitochondria, neuroengineering to study brain disease and more. There were nine speakers at the event including Brian Balin, PhD, chair, Department of Bio-medical Sciences, and director of the CCDA.

“For far too long, the field of Alzheimer’s disease research has focused on the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis suggesting that beta-amyloid was the main component underlying Alzheimer’s disease,” shared Dr. Balin. “This symposium presented evidence demonstrating that we must consider inciting events resulting in neuronal cellular damage prior to the aggregation of beta-amyloid as the causative factors in Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis; pathogenesis that results in the eventual deposition of amyloid and other protein aggregates such as tau. In this evaluation, the true etiology of Alzheimer’s disease lies in the interplay of ‘the environment’ and ‘individual susceptibilities’,” continued Dr. Balin.

The goal of this symposium was to bring together experts in various fields of Alzheimer’s research to enhance networking with attendees across their various research specialties. Attendees also discussed the needs within the community (research, funding, drug development, etc.) and received an update on the Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative, a non-profit medical research organization that is dedicated to advancing scientific breakthroughs in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

The symposium was moderated by Nikki Schultek. Ms. Schultek is the principal and founder of Intracell Research Group. According to the Intracell Research Group website, when Ms. Schultek was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disorders, some of which included neurodegenerative symptoms, she began studying medical literature and noticed a correlation between her diagnosis and various chronic infections. Antibiotic treatment led to a complete remission and inspired her work to connect researchers, clinicians and stakeholders to advance the research in the field of neurodegeneration.

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    Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, mental health counseling, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.

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