National Public Radio (NPR) health news, “Shots”, top story in its September 9th online issue describes the increasing momentum to investigate the possibility that an infectious agent is the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease, and presents the impetus added by the Alzheimer’s Germ Quest, Inc., (AGQ) $1 Million Challenge Award.
The NPR article refers to the White Paper on AGQ’s website, written by Leslie Norins, MD, PhD, its founder and president, which recapitulates clues and presents striking parallels between aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and many infections with long incubation periods and genetic influences. In some cases, their causative organisms are difficult or impossible to detect or to grow in the research laboratory.
Dr. Norins says he first became aware of the NPR article’s posting when his incoming email folder suddenly began “going crazy” with messages from strangers, including many scientists, who expressed thanks for “thinking outside the box” of traditional Alzheimer’s research on amyloid, tau, and genetics.
“We quickly realized that an important science news publication must have covered our project,” he says.
The article also described a new initiative of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which through its Foundation and the AGQ is offering two seed grants to research infectious aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Norins says that though the monetary amount of these is small compared to billions of dollars already spent by government and advocacy funders on traditional Alzheimer’s research topics, “it sometimes takes only one astute openminded scientist to discover an overlooked cause of a disease,” he says.
The AGQ $1 million research challenge is only in the ninth month of its existence, says Dr. Norins, and has already attracted 22 entries. Its deadline is December 31, 2020. About 25,000 worldwide are following the project via its newsletter and its social media sites, he says.
AGQ is a public benefit corporation, privately held, headquartered in Naples, Florida. It is self-funded, and no donations or grants are sought or accepted.
Dr. Norins has a 44-year career as a medical newsletter publisher. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Duke Medical School. He received his PhD from the University of Melbourne, where he was the postdoctoral fellow of Sir Macfarlane Burnet, Nobel Laureate.