CRAZY OLD COOTS?
SO YOU SAY.
Are we getting a little ahead of ourselves?
There’s a big conference in New Hampshire – Preventing Overdiagnosis. One topic at the conference: How come everyone who forgets the least little nothing thing is – BAM – labeled with dementia or predementia?
David de Lecour ( professor of medicine at the University of Sidney) says (theconversation.com) that we’re using the great tools we have to detect lots of minor stuff. We’re “over calling” Alzheimer’s and related illnesses. The numbers seem to say that dementia’s becoming an epidemic; maybe some of that’s because we’re doing a better job in identifying it. But LeCour and a lot of other experts say we’re doing a little TOO good a job and should slow down the ball a little.
There’s no ScienceAintSoBad Rating on this. I just don’t know.
But something to be aware of, okay?
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That drawing’s mine.
PROGRESS AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S
A TREATMENT FOR ALZHEIMER’S
Effective and few side effects
This sounds like what we’ve been waiting for, a treatment for Alzheimer’s that works. It’s being tested on humans right now.
WHAT THIS COULD MEAN
Alzheimer’s costs the US about $200 billion dollars a year. Fix that – even put a dent in that – and “Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act, if you prefer) would look like a precision engineered government program that turns a profit every year. Also, it could mean you get to have the seniors you love – really have them – in your life for much longer.
This has been tough sledding for researchers. They’ve known for a long time that the brains of people with Alzheimer’s look different. There are hard chunks of proteins outside of and around the neurons (beta amyloid “plaques”) and more proteins (called Tau) tangled up inside the nerve “bodies”. As time goes on, the connections between the nerves whither away. It took some doing to figure out why the proteins form these plaques since their presence is a normal thing and they have every right to be there. It’s just that some of these proteins – more and more of them – become elongated versions of themselves. These very long proteins clump together and get trapped in cells and interfere with their function. The result? In a toe, this would be called a sore toe. In a brain this would be called .. I can’t remember what it would be called. Where DID I leave my glasses, anyway?
I tried, okay? But dementia isn’t funny. It’s sad.
Here’s the thing.
Patrick Fraering is the lead author on a study in the journal Nature Communications which describes the the use of drugs that cause an enzyme to cut amyloid plaques shorter – into pieces small enough so that they don’t cause problems for the neuron. It sounds simple but this has been a long time coming. If the clinical tests that are now underway go well, this could be the beginning of something unimaginable – an era where getting old carries a measure of dignity.
Is there a catch? Of course. There’s always a catch when you’re waiting for a medicine to be tested and then for the FDA (or its equivalent elsewhere). But if those close to the project are this encouraged, would MISTER SASB be tossing cold water?
At MY age? Not on your life!
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Image credits: That’s my own – just a stick figure drawing, but I kinda like it.
Don't Ask. Don't Tell
GETTING SMART ABOUT DEMENTIA
It takes the you out of you.
Would you know if it was happening? Till now it’s been hard to be sure. The standard test is kinda wishy washy. You’re supposed to know it when you see it. Is it really Alzheimer’s disease? Is it depression? Hearing loss? Transient stroke?
How many liberals do you suppose are mistakenly diagnosed as demented? Happens all the time.
Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc just announced a test that’s startlingly accurate. 22% developed the disease within a year. The study (Reisa A. Sperling et al) used a brain dye with a “PET” scan.
That’s not all. There’s other work at Rowan, Penn, and Drexel Universities using EEGs, skin tests, brain scans.
The standard test, itself, is under review. First update in 26 years. It’ll include “biomarkers” and it’ll reflect advances in the understanding of the underlying pathology.
Soon we will be able to find out if the lights are going out.
Would you do it?
Kinda depends what you would do with the information, doesn’t it? Any hope of stopping it? Any chance of a cure?
At the least, you can get enough of a warning to prepare yourself and others.
And, who knows, maybe the news’ll be good. You DON’T have dementia.
You’re just a liberal.
(Don’t get mad. I made fun of conservatives LAST time!)