One pill that will prevent a multitude of interdependent biologic processes contributing to senescence or Alzheimer's Disease? Monoclonal antibodies that neutralize "clumps" of proteins? Reversing advanced disease in mice--and hoping to duplicate in humans? A virus attacking plaques in the brain? Pardon me if I am not applauding the latest findings being reported from Alzheimers Association International Conference (AAIC) but hearing about drugs "sucking out proteins" or dose changes of previously effective but toxic drugs doesn't hold up sustained hope. Especially when the focus is on the stocks of leading industry stakeholders--not those waiting for hope. Talking about drug competition and investor meetings sickens me. Here is a CNBC blurb on what to expect for the rest of the week.
The quote below from the NPR health news segment had me scratching my head as well. The "somehow gets folded" statement might be the key to the entire conundrum. Multiple systems are at play and it is doubtful that the expression of these proteins would result from a singular homogenous method--centralized enough to be a target for a cure.
These toxic substances, called beta-amyloid and tau, are the result of a process that begins when a healthy protein inside a brain cell somehow gets folded into the wrong shape.
The life of a neuron hangs on many interdependent systems, particularly the systems for neural intercommunication, metabolism, and repair. Those three systems ordinarliy work in sync, like highly trained acrobats. But internal factors such as changes in a person's nutrition, immune response or neuroendocrine status, and external factors such as toxins, trauma, or infection can shake one of the systems and upset the entire delicate balance--Zaven Khachaturian, Plundered Memories 1997
I am curious why leading scientists and organizations continue to sustain hope for a monotherapeutic cure or ultimate prevention. The primary promise of AAIC fans the flame of a single blockbuster to confirm the consolidated causal model centered on proteins "gone wild". If there was indeed a pardigm shift the pharmaceutical companies would no longer have a $300 billion darling lacking definitive answers. But what if AD is not a centrally localized target aligned with development of effective drugs? What if the clues involve the social and environmental context of aging? Think about what could be if we refocused research dollars (approximately 300 billion) on social and environmental determinants within our society instead of "symptoms" localized in our brain tissue. Where is the hero?