Weill Cornell Medicine neuroscientist Li Gan is driving toward one of the most coveted medical breakthroughs: an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is projected to affect 14 million people by 2050 if no cure or preventive is devised by then. It’s a daunting task that is exacerbated by the failure of a once-promising therapeutic strategy targeting the buildup of the amyloid beta protein in the brain – a hallmark of the disease.
But Gan is undaunted: She has devised an innovative two-pronged therapeutic approach that has so far shown promise in lab studies. Now with the support of several Weill Cornell Medicine entrepreneurship programs – and the creation of her startup, Aeton Therapeutics – Gan is working to take her preclinical therapy into the next stage of drug development.
“The entrepreneurship ecosystem (at Weill Cornell Medicine) has really enabled us to take the steps from discovery at the lab bench towards the development of new therapeutics,” said Gan, director of the Helen and Robert Appel Alzheimer’s Disease Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine, during the institution’s fourth annual Dean’s Symposium on Entrepreneurship and Academic Drug Development.
The virtual symposium, held Oct. 22, drew 125 attendees and served as an urgent reminder of the importance of biomedical innovation, and how Weill Cornell Medicine’s entrepreneurship ecosystem can support that work.
“It all starts with our faculty, and in some cases our students and trainees, having ideas – having discoveries,” said Dr. John Leonard, the newly appointed senior associate dean for innovation and initiatives and the Richard T. Silver Distinguished Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “They can then work with our teams to organize patent protection, as well as financial support, industry backing and translational expertise to move their projects forward toward the clinic.”
Jim Schnabel is a freelance writer for Weill Cornell Medicine.