Originally created 01/12/04

Five questions



DR. JERRY J. BUCCAFUSCO

Professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Medical College of Georgia, director of the Alzheimer's Research Center and CEO of Prime Behavior Testing Laboratories Inc.

1. You work with aged rhesus monkeys. What's it like to work with primates?

"It's the closest thing, for a basic scientist, to being able to work with humans. Their cognitive functions are so similar to humans that it's been a joy to work with them over the past 15 years."

2. Do you do anything personally to protect yourself from Alzheimer's disease?

"I take one baby aspirin a day, which actually serves a dual purpose. It protects your heart somewhat ... and at the same time there's some information that nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs like these little baby aspirins could help protect against some of the inflammation associated with Alzheimer's disease."

3. How optimistic are you that there will be a vaccine or effective treatment in the near future?

"I'm extremely optimistic. This is a worldwide disease that is getting a lot of attention from all of the major pharmaceutical companies and all of the major academic research institutes around the world. I think we'll begin to see some novel and perhaps disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer's disease coming along shortly."

4. You work with a number of nicotinelike compounds, such as cotinine, that seem to protect brain cells. What do you tell people about smoking?

"We tell people that smoking is not a reasonable nicotine-delivery system. And in fact, nicotine itself is not the drug they want to take for treating Alzheimer's disease, because the drug itself has too many side effects. Right now there are a number of companies developing safer nicotinic drugs, and they should be on the market before too long."

5. What is the worst pronunciation of your name that you've heard?

"(Laughs) I guess the one that annoys me the most, and everybody thinks it's so original, is to pronounce it like Joey Buttafuoco. That's probably the biggest joke I get: 'Oh, are you related to Joey?"'