Researchers do behavioral research for a variety of reasons. Most researchers do what they do to understand behavior or to understand its underlying physiology or both. In addition, most researchers are interested in seeing the fruits of their research benefit their fellow man. Moving from research to the “fruits of their research” to “benefiting their fellow man” is often a difficult process, particularly for researchers in an academic setting.
Topics: Tidbits related to Neuroscience
About 32% of Americans older than 85 have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This debilitating condition gradually affects memory, thinking, behavior and executive functions leaving the afflicted unable to perform daily tasks and gradually unaware of the world around them. Often, people with Alzheimer’s disease are also diagnosed with other types of dementia such as that caused by vascular disease. Worldwide, it is estimated that about 50 million people have some form of dementia. As the world’s population ages, without a cure, it is estimated that by 2050 more than 130 million people worldwide may suffer from dementia with 60 – 70% having Alzheimer’s and another 20 – 25% having a vascular form of the disease.
Because so many people worldwide are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, many drugs have been developed in the hopes of treating and ultimately curing the disease. But, over 200 experimental drugs intended to treat or cure the disease have failed in the last 30 years. Another 100 drugs are currently in clinical trials, so far without strong success.
In the April 2017 edition of Scientific American, Miia Kivipelto and Krister Håkansson discuss the results of a study they (Kivipelto) led titled the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER). The results of this study were the first to be published in a larger group of lifestyle change studies.
In the FINGER study, 631 men and women in the treatment group aged 60 – 77 and 629 in the control group participated. Further, the pool of subjects was chosen to consist of individuals who, according to scores on a test for dementia risk, were determined to be at an elevated risk for cognitive decline. Those in the control group received health advice and had their cardiovascular health checked regularly. If health problems such as high blood pressure were identified, these control group members were referred to a physician. The regimen for those in the treatment group consisted of four parts:
- Nutritional guidance – aimed at a healthy balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, dietary fibers and salt, restrictions on consumption of trans-fatty acids, refined sugar and alcohol (all in accordance with recommendations by the Finnish National Nutrition Council).
- Cognitive training – used a computer program to train on different cognitive tasks to enhance executive function (particularly planning and organizing), memory improvement and mental speed. This training consisted of two – three sessions per week in intervals of 10 – 15 minute sessions.
- Physical exercise – included muscle-strength training, aerobic exercise and postural balance eventually ramping up to two or three gym sessions of 60 minutes a week.
- More intensely monitored cardiovascular status – included regular checkups on metabolic and vascular health, measures of weight, blood pressure and hip and waist circumference averaging every four months and meetings at roughly the same intervals with physicians to discuss these results and using the results as a basis, encouraged the participants to change their daily health habits.
(Photo from Scientific American)
See the results below!
Although I currently am the CEO of Kinder Scientific, a leading animal behavior assay development and manufacturing company in San Diego (KinderScientific.com), I have been (and continue to be!) a registered US patent attorney for the last 28 years. With this as a background, in this blog I thought I’d share with you some tips and thoughts related to patents particularly as they relate to neuroscience and your research.
Patents are part of what is called “Intellectual Property.” Intellectual Property is essentially the product of people’s minds.
- Laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas ARE NOT patentable. (I am not sure what patenting E=mc2 would even mean! .... But, I'm sure it would be bad!) Devices (e.g., assays, diagnostic devices) or methods that incorporate these ARE patentable.
- These days, most universities and virtually all companies recognize that there may be value (including financial value to them! - think "Harvard Mouse!" See also "THE ONCOMOUSE THAT ROARED: RESISTANCE & ACCOMODATION TO PATENTING IN ACADEMIC SCIENCE") in getting appropriate patents. So, if you are in these institutions, you might find yourself involved in patenting whether you really want to or not!
- Not everything should be patented; have a clear objective as to why a particular thing should be patented! Sometimes getting a patent just messes things up (e.g., getting a patent that you don't intend to use; this keeps others from using the invention for "the greater good" .... including some aspects of research .... or from building on the invention)!
- The scientific standards for peer review (e.g., for publishing) and patenting are different and serve different purposes (e.g., maintaining standards of quality, improving performance and providing credibility for the former and being useful, new and non-obvious for the latter).
- Patent Attorney is a viable career option for neuroscience students and researchers at all levels of education and stages of career.
To learn more (and to see some cool and fun cartoons!!) click "More."
Topics: Tidbits related to Neuroscience