Celine Wang L&S Biological Sciences
The Neural Effects of Psychedelic Medicine on Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the seventh leading cause of US deaths and the primary cause of elderly dementia. This neurodegenerative disease irreversibly impairs cognitive functions, creating significant physical and emotional burdens on patients, healthcare providers, and families. One major risk factor for AD is a variant of the APOE gene: APOE4. 60-85% of all AD patients possess this mutated gene known to contribute to neurological degeneration. Thus far, no therapies for AD are targeted enough to intervene with APOE4’s deteriorating effects. Recent findings, however, indicate that the psychedelic compound known as 2,5-Dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine can aid in brain cell regeneration. This would effectively counteract the disruptive activity associated with APOE4, trailblazing a new therapeutic possibility. To explore this potential, my project asks the question: can psychedelic treatment be utilized as a novel therapeutic approach for reversing the neurodegenerative processes of AD? I hypothesize that psychedelics can counter the degenerative processes of AD on (1) the behavioral level by improving memory and reducing the prevalence of comorbidities such as anxiety and compulsivity and (2) the neurological level by promoting the regeneration of brain cells. This investigation would make headway in preclinical research fields discovering and developing treatments for severe neurodegenerative disorders. Acquiring new knowledge would alter the outlooks of millions of patients and their families.