The American public loves underdogs, the outlier or even outcast who defies convention and is proven right.

Dr. Claude Wischik may be just that. He believes that a protein called tau, which forms twisted fibers known as tangles inside the brain cells of Alzheimer's patients, is largely responsible for driving the disease.

His theory that goes against much of the scientific community, which has spent 20 years and billions of dollars of pharmaceutical investment on a different protein, beta amyloid, which forms sticky plaques in the brains of sufferers. But a string of experimental drugs designed to attack beta amyloid have failed recently in clinical trials, including two this summer from Eli Lilly &Co. and a partnership involving Pfizer Inc., Johnson&Johnson and Elan Corp. 

Wischik sees this as tau's big moment. 

An Outcast Among Peers Gains Traction on Alzheimer's Cure by Jeanne Whalen, Wall Street Journal