Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Just In Time

Despite decades of research, little progress had been made in finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease:
Alzheimer’s was first discovered in 1906, which means doctors have had a century to peel away the disease’s molecular layers and search for a cure. But despite their best efforts, they still have no real treatments. Since 2000, more than 200 Alzheimer’s drugs have been tested, and none proves to be a silver bullet.
(Image from
Post-mortem examination a century ago revealed a connection between dementia and the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain. Scientists have
focused first on finding ways to soak up the excess amyloid in the brain, hopefully before the protein can form its tacky plaques and destroy neurons. They developed, among other drugs, antibodies to find and bind to amyloid and break it down. But these compounds, though they worked in animals, failed to make much difference in memory and cognitive function in people.
The latest therapies, successfully tested on laboratory mice, include a combination of anti-amyloid, anti-tau (another protein found in Alzheimer brains), and nerve-growth drugs that not only stop deterioration but restore some brain functioning.

The history of Alzheimer's research, like the war on cancer, has been a story of hopes raised and dashed. Nevertheless, cures for these dread diseases may arrive just in time to save millions of the baby-boom generation, the luckiest generation in the history of mankind.

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