In this podcast, Tony Altar, PhD, Senior Scientific Fellow & Advisor of Verge Genomics, discusses brain illnesses and the groundbreaking new techniques utilized to advance treatment options.
Altar has over 35 years of experience leading some of the world’s most advanced CNS drug discovery and development teams. He is the former Global Head of Neuroscience at Otsuka, Chief Scientific Officer at Assurex Health, and CSO of Psychiatric Genomics, among others.
Altar talks extensively about his background and how his interest in brain issues grew. He recounts how, during his time a young man in high school, psychedelic drug use was fairly common in the communities of Los Angeles where he grew up. He became interested, from a scientific perspective, about any possible shared connections between the effects these drugs created and the mechanisms of psychiatric illnesses. As an advanced high school student excelling in his studies, Altar was able to complete high school early which afforded him the extraordinary opportunity to begin a volunteer position at the Neurobiochemistry Lab of the Brentwood Veteran’s Administration, where his interest in brain issues and diseases was cemented.
Altar explains that there are approximately 20,000 genes, and remarkably the brain expresses nearly half of them in total. And by studying all 20,000, scientists and researchers are able to more fully understand the coding of proteins and can measure mRNA in diseased tissue. Altar provides detailed information on cell types and neurons and he elaborates on how select brain diseases impact them, discussing the vulnerability of certain neurons that could make them more susceptible to disease.
Altar provides an analysis of the loss of dopamine neurons and outlines how protective mechanisms work, and why cells die. He gives an in-depth overview of enzymes and brain injection therapies and why standard intravenous therapy solutions may be inadequate.