Alzheimer’s disease has been difficult to replicate in the laboratory environment. For the first time in 2014, a 3-dimensional model of Alzheimer’s disease was developed in a Petri dish using a new and proprietary gel medium formula. Growing human cell cultures in a gel rather than a liquid provided for 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 their affiliation with Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
The scientists 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 one of The 100 Most Influential People in 2015.