In fact, one in six patients across the world suffers from a brain-related disease.
At a recent event, Dr. Eric Siemers, neurologist and Distinguished Medical Fellow at Eli Lilly and Company discussed the complexities of the brain through the lens of his work, specifically treating Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
“In the past, you really had to look at the brain under a microscope to understand what was going on,” Dr. Siemers said, sharing his thoughts on how technology has helped propel brain research. “With the new technologies available to us, we can understand the circuits in the brain and actually how they work in real time, in a way that we could never do fifteen years ago.”
Speaking specifically about Alzheimer’s disease, which Dr. Siemers points to as a huge public health issue, he recognizes that advancements in biomarkers and technology like PET scans and MRIs are transforming the process of diagnosis, and ultimately patient treatment.
“PET scans allows us to look at something called amyloid plaques, which we can potentially find 15 to 20 years before a patient begins showing symptoms,” said Siemers. “Alzheimer’s is a tough disease, and it’s gradually progressive. After the onset of symptoms, six months later, a patient is a bit worse than they were six months before. What we’re trying to do is slow that down and keep people in milder stages for a longer period of time –or even prevent the onset of symptoms altogether – and these new technologies may allow us to do that.”
Dr. Siemers also discussed how current innovations in technology can – and do – help facilitate the creation of new medicines. He specifically credits biopharmaceutical companies who are able to match trials with cutting edge technology to better engineer medicines that help transform patient care.
“I go boldly for things that I believe will be meaningful to patients,” Dr. Siemers said, recognizing the potential that new technologies and treatments have to cure degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “What we have to remind ourselves of over and over again is the ultimate goal – which is to get new medicines to patients more quickly.”