By Sy Mukherjee
January 18, 2019

Happy Friday, readers!

As we head into MLK weekend, I wanted to highlight an absolute must-read feature in the latest Fortune magazine issue: Rick Tetzeli’s fascinating foray into Paul Cox’s radical new theory for tackling Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s no secret that Alzheimer’s drug development has been rife with failure for more than 15 years (my own mini-summary of that debacle also appears in our latest issue).

Cox and company’s gamble contends that a simple protein building could be the key to preventing serious neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and ALS. Here’s a little peek into Tetzeli’s piece:

When it comes to the study of neurons—the critical cells of the central nervous system that degenerate and die in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS—Cox describes himself as something of a piker. “One colleague says I know about as much neurology as a neurologist’s spouse,” he added with a grin.

Nonetheless, neurons are precisely what you’ll find Cox and a covey of researchers studying at his nonprofit Brain Chemistry Labs. If you happen to be visiting Jackson this winter, you’ll recognize the lab by the cartoonish wood carving of a bespectacled bear (holding a beaker, naturally) just above the front portico. You might even spot a wealthy local patron wearing one of the lab’s “Serine Dipity” sweatshirts. That’s a wordplay on L‑serine, an amino acid that serves critical functions in the central nervous system, among other things. That’s the second strange part of this story: How extraordinarily unlikely and yet wonderful would it be if Cox and his colleagues were right—and the best prevention for some of these terrifying diseases turns out to be a naturally occurring protein building block rather than a high-priced drug.

We’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday, January 22nd after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Enjoy your weekend and read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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