Twenty years ago, Terrence Town, Ph.D., professor of physiology and biophysics at Keck School of Medicine, bet his career on a hunch.
When Town began looking at links between Alzheimer’s disease and the immune system, most people in the field dismissed his research. Alzheimer’s was still poorly understood, and there was little evidence to back him up.
“I absolutely could have been barking up the wrong tree,” he says.
That tree seems to have borne fruit. While theories about the immune system were rejected when Town started his research in the 1990s, inflammation, characterized by a buildup of plaque in the brain, has since been identified as a key...