Alzheimer’s in a Dish (2014)

Posted February 15, 2018

For many reasons, Alzheimer’s disease has been difficult to replicate in the laboratory environment.

Doo Yeon Kim, Ph.D., and Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D., at Massachusetts General Hospital developed a 3-dimensional model of Alzheimer’s disease in a Petri dish using a new and proprietary formula for a gel medium. By growing human cell cultures in a gel rather than a liquid, Kim and Tanzi were able to better replicate the 3-D structure of neurons in a real brain, allowing Alzheimer’s pathology to develop in the dish just as it would in a living person. This has become an invaluable tool for research, as it provides for studies to be performed in shorter timespans and allows for the rapid screening of existing drugs for their effect on amyloid plaques and tau tangles. The recipe for the gel is available to all scientists so that Alzheimer’s Research can be accelerated, regardless of affiliation with Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Drs. Kim and Tanzi were awarded the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award for this discovery; The New York Times noted Alzheimer’s In a Dish as a “real game changer”; and Dr. Tanzi was recognized by TIME Magazine as 100 Most Influential People in 2015.