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April 9: Revolutionizing Alzheimer’s, cancer, other treatments


Harding-JoeSEATTLE – Activating or inhibiting the growth factors linked to dementia, cancer and wound healing will be discussed at the free, public Washington State University Innovators lecture and reception 4-6 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, 2211 Alaskan Way, Pier 66, Seattle.

Register at

Joe Harding, WSU professor of physiology and neuroscience, will present the WSU Innovators lecture, “Designing Medicine’s Holy Grail: How Small Molecules May Help Repair the Brain and Stop Cancer in Its Tracks.” He will explore how controlling growth factor is central to the cessation and even the reversal of a range of diseases.

“We have successfully built molecules that can either activate or inhibit growth factors,” he said. “These small molecule drugs are inexpensive to manufacture, highly specific and can be designed to reach the brain.”

Growth factor proteins are central to the embryonic development, growth and maturation, healing processes and brain function of all animals. Too much growth factor leads to uncontrolled cell division and cell changes associated with cancers. Too little growth factor leads to degenerative processes such as the diminishing mental and motor functions associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Harding and his colleagues have developed a molecule called Dihexa that shows great promise in the fight against degenerative brain disease. Dihexa has proven extremely effective in the healing and generation of new neuropathways in the brains of rats afflicted with age-related neurodegeneration.

While the immediate application of Dihexa targets Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and age-related dementia, the impact of this work could help treat a host of maladies.

“There is a potential here to develop innovative treatments for almost every major human disease,” Harding said, “including cancer, diabetes and congestive heart failure.”

Learn more about Harding’s research at


Nancy Shrope, WSU Office of Research/Office of Grant and Research Development, 509-335-3822,



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