Troy Rohn, a professor in the Department of Biology, recently was appointed to the scientific advisory board for a company called Cognigenics. The company currently is working to develop a novel gene therapy treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.
The treatment will use CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, or repeating DNA patterns) genome editing to enhance cognition by reducing the excitability of certain neurons in the brain. Rohn explained that because the treatment modifies existing genes in the Alzheimer’s patient’s brain, it could permanently change brain activity.
“The goal is to enhance both alpha and theta brain wave activity, which collectively represent a less excited brain state,” Rohn said.
He explained that alpha brainwave states reduce Alzheimer’s risk factors by promoting relaxation and lowering hypertension, anxiety, stress and cortisol levels. Theta brainwave states ameliorate Alzheimer’s symptoms by enhancing cognition, mental acuity, focus, concentration, mindfulness and cognitive performance.
Rohn’s role on the advisory board will be to guide the preclinical development of this treatment strategy so that it eventually can be tested in human clinical trials. The initial trials will use a RNA version of the therapy, which produces a temporary effect without modifying the genome.
“I am thrilled to be a part of a highly innovative treatment strategy for Alzheimer’s disease,” Rohn said. “To date, the field has spent over $3.5 billion in Alzheimer’s research and development in the last four years with a 99 percent failure rate. We believe the time has come to consider new approaches. Cognigenics’ innovative program has the potential to raise the quality of life for millions of Alzheimer’s patients and their families.”
To learn more about Cognigenics, visit: https://www.cognigenics.co/