Untangling Alzheimer’s

A One Hour Science Doc • 2013

The story of the battle between the 'amyloid plaque' researches (with all the money) and a lone Australian scientist who said they were wrong...

Untangling Alzheimer’s is film about Prof Claude Wischik who is approaching the end of a remarkable twenty year journey, a man about to claim medicine’s Holy Grail – a cure for Alzheimer’s disease – a disease which now affects 26 million people worldwide and will affect 100 million by the middle of this century.

This is a David and Goliath story – a rank outsider, a little known Australian scientist dares to back himself against the dominant paradigm. The world of big end pharmaceutical research have put all their eggs in the one basket which Claude claims is a big mistake. He’s been telling them so, for years.

The dominant paradigm says that Alzheimer’s is caused by deposits of beta amyloid in the brain. Wischik has taken a road less travelled. He claims his research has shown that Alzheimer’s is caused by tangles of protein in the neurons themselves. To prove this he had to fight – for laboratories and research teams, for finance and for respect. Wow ! Has he fought. He’s found backers in odd places. He’s caught lots of planes and lots of cabs and he’s talked to lots of people with money – people who speculate. It’s not the way medicine normally works.

Claude’s competitors “big pharma” have bigger labs and bigger bank rolls. Their research is way ahead of Claude’s. They have spent billions on major trials of drugs that remove beta amyloid from the brain. But now as their results roll in, the big end of town (and the amyloid plaque theory) is looking decidedly shaky.

Claude meanwhile has raised enough money to get started on his own major trial. The tortoise is overtaking the hare as Claude’s own Phase 3 double blind placebo controlled trial is now fully subscribed.

We are there, with exclusive access, embedded in the process. We’ve already been rolling camera for five years. We’ll also probably be there when the enigmatic Claude Wischik, the lone wolf of modern medicine, claims his Nobel Prize.

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