Hurrah! Cure for Alzheimer’s Discovered!

Yes, I’m doing that “sensationalist headline” thing the popular news media is so famous for.

But … I hope this is true. It would be damned cool if it was. At the same time, I’ve learned — not as a scientist, because I’m not one, but as a reader of news and onetime newspaper editor — that what you read in headlines is often misleading. And you can’t even trust the stories that follow.

But here it is: Breaking News from the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine

CLEVELAND – Feb. 9, 2012 – Neuroscientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have made a dramatic breakthrough in their efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers’ findings, published in the journal Science, show that use of a drug in mice appears to quickly reverse the pathological, cognitive and memory deficits caused by the onset of Alzheimer’s. The results point to the significant potential that the medication, bexarotene, has to help the roughly 5.4 million Americans suffering from the progressive brain disease.

[...]

In particular, the researchers were struck by the speed with which bexarotene improved memory deficits and behavior even as it also acted to reverse the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. The present view of the scientific community is that small soluble forms of amyloid beta cause the memory impairments seen in animal models and humans with the disease. Within six hours of administering bexarotene, however, soluble amyloid levels fell by 25 percent; even more impressive, the effect lasted as long as three days. Finally, this shift was correlated with rapid improvement in a broad range of behaviors in three different mouse models of Alzheimer’s.

Here’s hoping this is all aboveboard, that it really works as advertised, and that the drug, and the effect of the drug, translates over to humans.

Even if this one doesn’t, the study appears to show that a quick reversal of Alzheimer’s symptoms is possible.

If and when they prove the thing, I’m hoping Sir Terry Pratchett (Mr. Discworld) is one of the early patients.

_______________________

Thanks to commenter ohioobserver for the heads-up on this. And for remembering my ABCD initiative.

This research — still in the basic stages — is among the most hopeful advances in attacking Alzheimer’s disease. Looks like the frontiers of “ABCD” are being pushed back a little. maybe a lot. Not that we still don’t need that “moon-shot” initiative you spoke of.

However! I must point out that his further comment …

I read most of your columns, and you are among my favorite bloggers, but I most, most enjoy the “short stacks”. Lots of gems. (some turds too, but that’s another comment). Keep it up. You do some cool stuff.

… is a bit off-base. Okay, maybe my posts DO contain the occasional turd, but by golly they are GEMLIKE turds.

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