Brain aging leads to cognitive decline and is the main risk factor for sporadic forms of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease. While brain cell and tissue intrinsic factors are likely key determinants of the aging process recent studies from our lab and others document a remarkable susceptibility of the brain to circulatory factors. Thus, blood borne factors from young mice or humans are sufficient to slow aspects of brain aging and improve cognitive function in old mice, and vice versa, factors from old mice are detrimental for young mice and impair cognition. We discovered tissue inhibitor of metalloproteases (TIMP)-2 to be sufficient and, in part, necessary to mediate the cognitive benefits of young human plasma on aged mouse brains. We are trying to understand the molecular basis of these observations and rejuvenation in general and explore their relevance for neurodegeneration and dementia.
Tony Wyss-Coray is a professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University, the Co-Director of the Stanford Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, and a Senior Research Career Scientist at the Palo Alto VA. His lab studies brain aging and neurodegeneration with a focus on age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. The Wyss-Coray research team is following up on earlier discoveries, which showed circulatory blood factors can modulate brain structure and function and factors from young organisms can rejuvenate old brains. These findings were voted 2nd place Breakthrough of the Year in 2014 by Science Magazine and presented in talks at Global TED, the World Economic Forum, and Google Zeitgeist.
Wyss-Coray is the co-founder of Alkahest, a company developing plasma-based therapies to counter age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's. Current studies in his lab focus on the molecular basis of the systemic communication with the brain by employing a combination of genetic, cell biology, and -omics approaches in killifish, mice, and humans and through the development of bio-orthogonal tools for the in vivo labeling of proteins.
Wyss-Coray is the inventor on multiple patents and the recipient of an NIH Director's Pioneer Award, a Zenith Award from the Alzheimer's Association, and a NOMIS Foundation Award.