More than 5 million Americans suffer from some variety of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, but if 1973 San Marino High School graduate Dr. Frank Longo has anything to say about it, that number will decrease drastically in the next few years.
Dr. Longo is the Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University, where he is putting the finishing touches on an experimental drug that will begin clinical trials next month with Alzheimer patients in Europe.
His work was even featured on the cover of a double issue of Time Magazine in February, where he discussed “The Alzheimer’s Pill.”
“A radical new drug could change old age,” the subtitle says.
Longo was in town earlier this month at the invitation of Bill Ukropina, a 1974 graduate of San Marino High School and principal of Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisors, who asked his old Titan track teammate to address 300 of his closest friends at Ukropina’s annual holiday luncheon.
“I read last February in the Time Magazine article about Frank’s research at Stanford,” said Ukropina. “We met at Stanford parents weekend a few days later and I asked him to speak at my annual lunch at the Rose Bowl and he accepted. Many of the guests said he was the best speaker ever.”
Dr. Longo’s family was the former owner of Longo Toyota, which was at one time the largest auto dealership in the United States. He is now trying to drive Alzheimer’s research across the finish line and the drug he has spent the past 15 years working on might be the answer. The medication – known as LM11A-31 – has cured mice with Alzheimers and he hopes it has similar success with humans. If the tests are successful, LM11A-31 will go before the United States Food and Drug Administration for approval.
Dr. Longo earned his MD from the University of California, San Diego in 1981 and his Ph.D in 1983. He has since continued his education at the University of California, San Francisco, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and at Stanford, where he serves as the George E. and Lucy Becker Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences. In 2015, he received the Melvin R. Goodes Prize for Excellence in Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery from the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation.
His wife, Anne Longo, has been CEO of PharmatrophiX – the company Dr. Longo started to develop the product – since 2010 and also serves as the senior director of development for Neurology & Neurological Sciences at Stanford.
At his presentation in the locker room of the Rose Bowl, Dr. Longo guided guests through a 31-slide PowerPoint presentation that explained calculations and factors which indicate the chances of contracting the disease, the science behind a potential cure and possible preventive methods. A hint: sleep, exercise and a Mediterranean diet are key.