The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-20-2011, 10:28 AM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Bigfork, Montana
Posts: 4,056
Will there be a cure for Alzheimer's Disease in my lifetime?

MODS: This my be IMHO territory...

Every now and then I read about breakthroughs in understanding what causes Alzheimer's Disease. Clearly something is going wrong with the brains of these people.

I have personally witnessed the devastation of this disease in my family, so I have a selfish interest in someone finding a cure in my lifetime.

What are the odds of a cure being found within the next 30 years?

Last edited by dolphinboy; 08-20-2011 at 10:30 AM..
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-20-2011, 10:41 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
I personally think they don't have a clue about what really causes Alzheimers, or arthritis, or Parkinsons, or childhood diabetes, schizophrenia, or a multitude of other random diseases. They can describe in detail what is happening with the body when it strikes, but not the agent that causes it.

(My personal, totally unscientific ungrounded opinion is that it is a form of infectious disease - which is usually what a random, unpredictable affliction of an otherwise healthy person tends to be).

Take a lesson from the curent issues about liberation therapy for MS. For decades, brain scientists postulated all sorts of weird mechanisms except the one currently blamed - simply that constrictions in neck blood vessels created back pressure whcih results in iron from the blood creating brain problems. The simple fix is allegedly to use an angioplasty-like technique to open the vessel. How many thousands of very smart scientists spent billions and decades doing rsearch without seeing that simple answer?

That doesn't mean that someone won't have some interesting drugs to mitigate the symptoms of Alzheimers in the next years or decades...
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-20-2011, 12:15 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: California
Posts: 8,066
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Take a lesson from the curent issues about liberation therapy for MS. For decades, brain scientists postulated all sorts of weird mechanisms except the one currently blamed - simply that constrictions in neck blood vessels created back pressure whcih results in iron from the blood creating brain problems. The simple fix is allegedly to use an angioplasty-like technique to open the vessel. How many thousands of very smart scientists spent billions and decades doing rsearch without seeing that simple answer?
How about taking a lesson from the neurologists who think that one vascular surgeon in Italy is full of it? Who point out that none of the epidemiological findings in MS are associated with venous diseases (epstein-barr, ancestry, that MS is more common in women)? That none of the hallmarks of venous pathology are common in MS? That no known venous disease causes an organ-specific immune response? That Zamboni's study included no blinding and no controls? That his treatment is dangerous and its effects are irreproducible?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-20-2011, 12:39 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
A cure for AD? Unlikely, because especially in late term, the brain is so destroyed by this point. Could we prevent progression of the disease if we catch it earlier? That is more likely, don't know when though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
How about taking a lesson from the neurologists who think that one vascular surgeon in Italy is full of it? Who point out that none of the epidemiological findings in MS are associated with venous diseases (epstein-barr, ancestry, that MS is more common in women)? That none of the hallmarks of venous pathology are common in MS? That no known venous disease causes an organ-specific immune response? That Zamboni's study included no blinding and no controls? That his treatment is dangerous and its effects are irreproducible?
Well sure, his "drive a ice shaping machine all over the patient's brain" method is bound to have detractors.

Last edited by thelurkinghorror; 08-20-2011 at 12:40 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-20-2011, 12:48 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 25,159
In your lifetime? How old are you?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-20-2011, 01:06 PM
Gary Robson Gary Robson is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,449
Moderating: Moved thread GQ->IMHO

Quote:
Originally Posted by dolphinboy View Post
MODS: This my be IMHO territory...
Yep. It is.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-20-2011, 01:34 PM
chappachula chappachula is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan View Post
In your lifetime? How old are you?
the Op asked "What are the odds of a cure being found within the next 30 years?"
So I'll bet he's about 40 years old.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-20-2011, 01:40 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 25,159
Quote:
Originally Posted by chappachula View Post
the Op asked "What are the odds of a cure being found within the next 30 years?"
So I'll bet he's about 40 years old.
Unlikely in the OP's lifetime. Medical science is barely scratching the surface of how to fix the brain. I think we'll have sustainable fusion reactors first.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-20-2011, 02:16 PM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Yeah, we really don't even have much of a clue about what causes Alzheimers. It's a very poorly understood disease. To simplify (a lot), all we really know is that many elderly patients have dementia. If you look tissue samples after they die, many patients with particular kinds of dementia also have amyloid plaques in their brain. Since there is correlation between severity of dementia and quantity of plaques, many researchers assumed that the plaques cause Alzheimers.

A lot of research and drug development has attempted to reduce plaque formation, with a few recent spectacular failures. One class of drugs (gamma-secretase inhibitors) does slow the plaque formation, but they do nothing for the actual dementia (and there are nasty side effects). That failure suggests that the amyloid plaques might just be a symptom of some unknown disease process. It's a really dramatic example of how correlation and causation are not the same thing.

(Early onset Alzheimers seems to be a different disease, since it is caused by mutations that lead to amyloid plaque formation. There, the amyloid plaques are more likely to be causing dementia, but it's hardly clear.)

So given the current state of Alzheimer's research, I don't think we're going to see any useful treatments any time in the next several decades. And I'm very pessimistic about any sort of neurodegeneration treatments. If you "cure" alzheimers, I think you'll just delay cognitive decline for a few years before some other form of neurodegeneration kicks in.

Last edited by lazybratsche; 08-20-2011 at 02:17 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-20-2011, 02:43 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
I'm optimistic. I think it's possible that there may be a breakthrough in AD within 30 years.
Even though it may seem like not much progress is being made, when I think of how far things have come compared to the last 30 years, I do think we're getting somewhere. For example, we now have some understanding of risk factors and even though we can't reverse or stop the cognitive decline, we do have medications that can at least slow the decline. That's a start in the direction.
I think sometimes we forget how far medical knowledge has come just within the last century. 100 years ago, type 1 diabetes was basically a death sentence but nowadays it is not nearly so scary thanks to insulin. High blood pressure likewise used to kill a lot more people and now we have numerous medications to control it (even though a lot of people still die from complications of uncontrolled high blood pressure because they simply choose not to take the meds - and incidentally, some research suggests that there may be a link between high blood pressure and later developing dementia).
I also think that the fact the baby boomers are rapidly approaching the age at which they will be vulnerable to AD will spur a lot of research in this area.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 08-20-2011, 09:09 PM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Bigfork, Montana
Posts: 4,056
Other than familial or genetic risk factors, is there anything someone can do (e.g. diet or exercise?) to delay the onset of AD?

My mother feared getting AD during her lifetime (her father, my grandfather suffered from it) and always did lots of puzzles to "exercise" her mind... but by age 72 her short term memory was failing and by 75 she couldn't recognize her immediate family.

What can I do at age 56 to decrease the chance of getting AD? Is there any kind of medical test to see if I am likely to get it?
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 08-20-2011, 09:20 PM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
If you carry the gene (as I do), I'm sorry to say you have a very good chance of getting it yourself.

As an Alzheimer's Advocate, I keep myself educated as to all new research, but so far nothing looks promising here in the US, and I am of the opinion that may be because we sit on the goddam dime to long. (Read as FDA stupidity).

Also, if I may, please mods? The "12 Disciples Of Trimming The Debt" are now in charge of reducing the national debt by 1.5 trillion dollars, which may affect all of us with Alzheimer's related dementia.

I don't think I'm allowed to link y'all to anything regardng this, but please give it some thought.

Thanks

Quasi
__________________
My Dementia Blog is at http://wheretobud.blogspot.com

Last edited by Quasimodem; 08-20-2011 at 09:21 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 08-20-2011, 09:29 PM
lavenderviolet lavenderviolet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
One thing you have control over is that you can have your blood pressure checked and make sure you get it under control if it's high. As I mentioned, there is some research that shows that high blood pressure does affect your risk.
Other than that, I'd suggest looking at the info over at
http://www.alz.org/research/science/...n_and_risk.asp

It is technically possible to have genetic testing for a gene called Apoe-E4 that does raise the risk of alzheimer's disease in some families but this testing is not really done routinely at this point. Since testing positive for the gene is not a guarantee oyu will develop AD and testing negative doesn't mean you're guaranteed not to get it, I probably wouldn't worry about it.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 08-21-2011, 12:45 PM
Bootis Bootis is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
The difficulty in answering a question like this is that you can't predict what new technology may exist 50 years from now, that could make solving current problems, such as alzheimer's disease, laughably easy. One might say today that something is essentially impossible, and without a different, unimaginable process or technology, they may be correct. But putting a timetable on things much beyond 25 years becomes very murky conjecture.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 08-21-2011, 02:14 PM
Shmendrik Shmendrik is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Take a lesson from the curent issues about liberation therapy for MS. For decades, brain scientists postulated all sorts of weird mechanisms except the one currently blamed - simply that constrictions in neck blood vessels created back pressure whcih results in iron from the blood creating brain problems. The simple fix is allegedly to use an angioplasty-like technique to open the vessel. How many thousands of very smart scientists spent billions and decades doing rsearch without seeing that simple answer?
Not to derail the thread, but more and more evidence is accumulating which confirms what reputable scientists have been saying for years: liberation therapy for MS is useless, and "that simple answer" is complete BS which has killed a few MS patients and provided false hope to countless others.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 08-22-2011, 01:11 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Don't want to derail either. My point - MS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, childhood diabetes - strike randomly and unpredictably. We can point to minor selection factors -traits and environmental - but unlike a true genetic disease such as Huntingtons (Woody Guthrie) there is no demonstrable/predictable cause. I suffer from lip sores (Herpes I?) every 6 months to 2 years or more, totally randomly. People who experience post-polio syndrome, dementia from syphylis, etc. also demonstrate a very erratic, unpredictable and random outbreak. Disease behaves like this.

IIRC there were about half a dozen cases of early-onset parkinsons, including Michael J. Fox, among the people that worked on one of his early TV shows in Vancouver. Environment? Disease? Coincidence? Some day maybe we will understand.

(I would perhaps be more sympathetic to the claims of fraud about Dr. Zamboni if it weren't for the people who report significant improvement after treatment. I was not aware that MS symptoms could be significantly countered by the placebo effect.)
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 08-22-2011, 02:55 AM
AboutAsWeirdAsYouCanGet AboutAsWeirdAsYouCanGet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Don't want to derail either. My point - MS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, childhood diabetes - strike randomly and unpredictably. We can point to minor selection factors -traits and environmental - but unlike a true genetic disease such as Huntingtons (Woody Guthrie) there is no demonstrable/predictable cause.
Um not quite. Did you know that people with Down's get Alizheimers? It is genetic in some cases.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 08-22-2011, 04:47 AM
Shmendrik Shmendrik is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
(I would perhaps be more sympathetic to the claims of fraud about Dr. Zamboni if it weren't for the people who report significant improvement after treatment. I was not aware that MS symptoms could be significantly countered by the placebo effect.)
Since the most common form of MS involves a series of often dramatic declines and remissions, it would be more surprising if some people didn't report significant improvement after treatment.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 10-23-2011, 12:04 AM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
I have been researching this disease for seven years, due to family members that have had the disease. We actually know a great deal about the causes of Alzheimer's disease and how to treat it, although the latter is not well-publicized because U.S. researchers want a drug "solution" to Alzheimer's disease. Since 1997, researchers have known that peroxynitrite-mediated damage is widespread in Alzheimer's disease (peroxynitrites are also implicated in a series of other diseases including many forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes, some types of heart disease and strokes, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and ALS). Factors that can contribute to the formation of peroxynitrites and thus an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease are high glucose levels, high blood pressure, Down syndrome, the APOE4 gene, presenilin gene mutations, bisphosphonate osteoporosis drugs (such as Fosamax and Boniva), late estrogen replacement therapy, mercury, aluminum fluoride, and stress. Given the wide variety of dietary, genetic, environmental, and drug factors that contribute to the disease, it is no wonder that the disease is so widespread.

Peroxynitrites oxidize (take hydrogen away) from glucose transport systems, choline transport systems, the enzyme choline acetyltransferases, g proteins coupled to receptors involved in short-term memory (acetylcholine muscarinic), mood (serotonin), sleep (melatonin), alertness (dopamine), and smell (olfactory), nitrate tau proteins (thus inhibiting neurotransmission), and cause an influx of calcium killing neurons. Peroxynitrite scavengers (which convert peroxynitrites into less harmful compounds--namely water and a nitrogen dioxide anion) and which partially reverse oxidation by adding hydrogen back to receptors, enzymes, and transport systems have been effective time and again in improving cognitive function in animals and/or human beings (see for instance the clinical trial by Jimbo and colleagues using essential oils via aromatherapy and the clinical trials by Akhondzadeh and colleagues using tinctures of essential oils). The list of peroxynitrite scavengers is quite long, but it includes ketones from coconut oil, minocycline and other tetracycline antibiotics, rosmarinic acid, grape seed extract, cinnamon extract, true cinnamon essential oil, rosemary essential oil, lemon balm essential oil, and sage essential oil. Aromatherapy is particularly effective in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (as I have seen in the case of my own mother) because the compounds which scavenge peroxynitrites can be inhaled directly into the part of the brain where the peroxynitrites are doing the most damage--hippocampus.

It is an indictment against the medical community, Alzheimer's organizations, and the pharmaceutical industry that the main cause of Alzheimer's disease has been known for almost 15 years and that they have ignored study after study (mostly conducted outside of the United States) that strongly indicate that peroxynitrite scavengers can be used to effectively treat the disease.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 10-23-2011, 12:13 AM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Just one more point. Many of the same compounds which can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease can likely be used to delay its onset. Phenolic compounds in various fruits, vegetables, spices (tumeric, clove, cinnamon, and rosemary, for instance), and essential oils and Omega 3-fatty acids (in fish oil, for instance) inhibit peroxynitrite formation and probably help delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 10-23-2011, 04:43 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Eastern Connecticut
Posts: 16,314
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazybratsche View Post

A lot of research and drug development has attempted to reduce plaque formation, with a few recent spectacular failures. One class of drugs (gamma-secretase inhibitors) does slow the plaque formation, but they do nothing for the actual dementia (and there are nasty side effects). That failure suggests that the amyloid plaques might just be a symptom of some unknown disease process. It's a really dramatic example of how correlation and causation are not the same thing.
My mom is on one of the experimental groups of meds for placque reduction, and has been for about 3 years. She has stopped deteriorating as rapidly as she had been - though she has deteriorated in the past 3 years. We are thinking that she has about another year to year and a half until we need to place her into a facility, as my brother works full time and is currently living with her to keep her in the family home. [mrAru and I live 400 miles away, and if we lived locally I would not be able to physically take care of her if she was any worse. About all I could realistically do is make sure she takes her meds and eats ... which my brother manages quite well.]

I have to worry about alzheimers from her side of the family and parkinsons from dads ... *sigh*
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 10-23-2011, 08:59 AM
monstro monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Don't want to derail either. My point - MS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, childhood diabetes - strike randomly and unpredictably. We can point to minor selection factors -traits and environmental - but unlike a true genetic disease such as Huntingtons (Woody Guthrie) there is no demonstrable/predictable cause. I suffer from lip sores (Herpes I?) every 6 months to 2 years or more, totally randomly. People who experience post-polio syndrome, dementia from syphylis, etc. also demonstrate a very erratic, unpredictable and random outbreak. Disease behaves like this.
Well, often it seems random. And then you look back and see the risk factors that you did not notice.

Actually, Huntington's is a weird one. Not as clear-cut as you'd think. I once got a Huntington's test done, thinking it was going to be one of those simple "let's look for the gene, and if it's not there, yay!" kind of thing. The report I got back was an education for me. Huntington's isn't caused by a codon point mutation (my simplistic view of a mutation), but is actually caused by a whole bunch of nucleotide repetitions at a locus. This gene is especially susceptible to mutations--genes aren't equally vunerable to being altered through the generations! This was news to me and I have a Ph.D in biology! So in one generation, a person can have a high number of mutations at this gene and yet not develop Huntington's, but in the next generation (or the one following), it pops up in the kids or grandkids because the number of repeats have increased to a certain tipping point. So you can be a carrier for Huntington's without having the family history to warn you.

The report I got back said that I will not develop Huntington's (whew!), but that I should have genetic counseling done because any grandchildren/great-grandchildren I have might. Apparently I have a higher than "normal" number of repeats in my huntinton gene. As I don't plan on having any kids, this news immediately didn't keep me up at night. But I do have nieces. Should they know about this? I haven't told them.

What I want to know is the role epigenetics plays on the mutability of that gene. If I were to have kids, it would probably be too late to do anything about mutations they inherit. But would it be too late for them to protect the gene their progeny inherits? Or has epigenetics already determined the destiny of my entire lineage?

Somebody should do a study!

Last edited by monstro; 10-23-2011 at 09:00 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 10-23-2011, 05:42 PM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Dear Guys

I find this discussion very interesting (especially Lane Siomonan's research), so unless anyone objects, I'd like to link to it from the blog.

Okay?

Thanks

Q
__________________
My Dementia Blog is at http://wheretobud.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 10-23-2011, 07:15 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Lane, I am on an Institutional Review Board at a large medical center. My task as a voting member of that board is to review studies done on humans for safety, ethics, etc. I can say without hesitation that I frequently see studies being done using nutritional supplements of various kinds as potential treatments for various diseases, including Alzheimer's. These studies are funded by individual departments, philanthropic grants, government funds (NIH, etc.) and even pharmaceutical companies. I know nothing about the particular line of research you're discussing, but I think you are oversimplifying matters when you assert that almost no one is interested in a non-pharmaceutical solution - especially because any company with an ounce of sense would immediately create and patent a custom blend of the ingredients in question and market the hell out of it. There are plenty of plant-based pharmaceuticals out there.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 10-24-2011, 08:35 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Alzheimer's Disease research is definitely one of the most disappointing research areas. If any one of those "remedies" mentioned by Lane Simpson had a chance in hell of working, the drug companies would be all over it. There is absolutely nothing preventing Pfizer from patenting an FDA approved grape seed extract for the treatment of Alzheimer's. In fact, that would be ideal, since drug synthesis is extremely expensive. The profit margins would be astronomical.

Here is one group of researchers that attempt to make a link between [HTML=http://www.news-medical.net/news/20111018/HSV1-drugs-could-slow-progression-of-Alzheimers-disease.aspx]Alzheimer's Disease and Herpes Simplex 1[/HTML]. I have no idea if there is a connection. Here is [HTML=http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2011120a.html]another paper[/HTML] that demonstrates Alzheimer's can be transfered between animals (admittedly, not in any way that demonstrates it is contagious.). I think a large portion of research indicates that it behaves like a prion.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 10-24-2011, 08:54 PM
Quasimodem Quasimodem is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
"An' we must stop it in our lifetime, 'fore it kills somebody!"

Sorry! Couldn't help myself behaving like a prion.

The above is only some comic relief, okay, guys and ladies?

But see? That's the answer to the OP's question, and something I have addressed many times in the blog. There's such a wealth of mostly useless information, that no one can agree on anything. Especially those folks who are in the labs.

So my answer is, "we're gonna diiiiiieeeeee!"

Bwah.
Q

Last edited by Quasimodem; 10-24-2011 at 08:55 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 10-24-2011, 09:14 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Oh I think the guys in the labs are in complete agreement that we know absolutely nothing, and will try anything at this point. The failure of the gamma secretes inhibitors, pretty much puts the most promising avenue of research back at the starting point. If the obvious conclusion is correct, then the amyloids aren't the cause disease, they are an effect of the disease not related to dementia.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 11-03-2011, 09:41 AM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
test
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 11-03-2011, 10:36 AM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
I am having troubles posting this message, perhaps because previous versions were too long. I will try to be more succinct this time. The points made by WarmNPrickly and Ferret Herder do not preclude the possibility that peroxynitrite scavengers are an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The patent process is more complicated than either suggests. First, the FDA does not approve nutritional supplements (which may be part of the problem), second products of nature cannot be patented (such as essential oils in their natural form), third you cannot patent something that has already been patented (such as the case with one form of grape seed extract), and fourth you cannot patent something that is off patent (such as minocycline). You can develop a blend of natural ingredients (as Ferret Herder suggests) or develop a new extraction process but the product would have to be more effective than the natural ingredients sold separately or the existing extracts. So far the researchers working on peroxynitrite scavengers have not succeeded in doing so. Unless such a product can be developed, pharmaceutical companies are not going to promote a treatment that is more effective than current medicines, but over which they have no control (most essential oils can be purchased for around ten dollars a bottle). There is considerable evidence that peroxynitrite scavengers can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease, it is just not the answer that most members of the Alzheimer's reseach community are seeking.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 11-04-2011, 09:16 AM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 3,860
Quote:
Originally Posted by dolphinboy View Post
Other than familial or genetic risk factors, is there anything someone can do (e.g. diet or exercise?) to delay the onset of AD?
AD has struck close to home so I have had a lot of conversations with doctors and neurologists recently. One thing they uniformly say is that we should all be taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements daily.

That's not to say that is the only thing that will delay the onset but it is one cheap, easy thing to do.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 11-04-2011, 04:59 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lane Simonian View Post
I am having troubles posting this message, perhaps because previous versions were too long. I will try to be more succinct this time. The points made by WarmNPrickly and Ferret Herder do not preclude the possibility that peroxynitrite scavengers are an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease. The patent process is more complicated than either suggests. First, the FDA does not approve nutritional supplements (which may be part of the problem), second products of nature cannot be patented (such as essential oils in their natural form), third you cannot patent something that has already been patented (such as the case with one form of grape seed extract), and fourth you cannot patent something that is off patent (such as minocycline). You can develop a blend of natural ingredients (as Ferret Herder suggests) or develop a new extraction process but the product would have to be more effective than the natural ingredients sold separately or the existing extracts. So far the researchers working on peroxynitrite scavengers have not succeeded in doing so. Unless such a product can be developed, pharmaceutical companies are not going to promote a treatment that is more effective than current medicines, but over which they have no control (most essential oils can be purchased for around ten dollars a bottle). There is considerable evidence that peroxynitrite scavengers can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease, it is just not the answer that most members of the Alzheimer's reseach community are seeking.
Do you have a cite to an article in a reputable peer-reviewed medical journal that supports your claims that "There is considerable evidence that peroxynitrite scavengers can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease" ?
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 11-04-2011, 09:23 PM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
I have many artricles from peer-reviewed medical journals on the use of peroxynitrite scavengers to treat Alzheimer's disease but I will just cite a few here and provide google searches for some others on a separate post:

T. Alkam et al. A natural scavenger of peroxynitrites, rosmarinic acid, protects against memory impairment of memory induced by AB25-35. Behav Br Res 180 (2007): 139-45.

D. Jimbo et al. The effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer's disease. Psychogeriatrics 9 (2009): 173-9.

S. Akhondzadeh et al. Melissa oficinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial. J Neurol Neruosurg Psychiatry 74(2003): 863-6.

S. Akhondzadeh et al. Salvia oficinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a double blind randomised and placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther 28(2003): 53-9.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 11-04-2011, 10:04 PM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Here are several additional titles:

M.A. Smith et al. Widespread peroxynitrite-mediated damage in Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci 17 (1997): 2653-7.

A. Frydam-Marom et al. Orally administered cinnamon corrects cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease animal models. PLoS One 6 (2011): e16584

D.W. Peterson et al. Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer's disease in vitro. J Alzheimer's Dis 17(2009): 585-97.

S. Jeon et al. SuHexiang Wan essential oil alleviates amyloid beta induced memory impairment through inhibition of tau protein phoshphorylation in mice. Am J Clin Med 39
(2011): 917-32.

I have several other articles showing the effectiveness of peroxynitrite scavengers such as minocycline, grape seed extract, holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), and the alga Symphyocladia latiuscula in animal models of Alzheimer's disease. In fact, every single peroxynitrite scavenger that has been used in animals or human beings has partially reversed Alzheimer's disease.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 11-04-2011, 10:46 PM
PandaBear77 PandaBear77 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
To answer the OP: no, I don't think there will be a cure. I'd LOVE to be wrong, though.

I do think there will be better drugs, though.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 11-06-2011, 08:04 AM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 3,860
Here's an article that all of you might find interesting:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228374.600

Quote:
Green tea and red laser attack Alzheimer's plaques
The article isn't as quaky as the title might lead you to believe.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 11-06-2011, 09:17 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lane Simonian View Post
Here are several additional titles:

M.A. Smith et al. Widespread peroxynitrite-mediated damage in Alzheimer's disease. J Neurosci 17 (1997): 2653-7.

A. Frydam-Marom et al. Orally administered cinnamon corrects cognitive impairment in Alzheimer's disease animal models. PLoS One 6 (2011): e16584

D.W. Peterson et al. Cinnamon extract inhibits tau aggregation associated with Alzheimer's disease in vitro. J Alzheimer's Dis 17(2009): 585-97.

S. Jeon et al. SuHexiang Wan essential oil alleviates amyloid beta induced memory impairment through inhibition of tau protein phoshphorylation in mice. Am J Clin Med 39
(2011): 917-32.
First article is a post-mortem analysis of brain tissue, which provides some indicators that peroxynitrites may indeed be involved somehow in the Alzheimer's process. Good preliminary info but not proof that introducing substances to fight these molecules will have a positive effect.

Second (btw, trying to look up this article online was annoying - their journal may be all "interactive" and crap, but it's hard to find an article when you're going by journal issue. And it's "Frydman-Marom") is an animal (flies, to be specific) model, which is good for preliminary research but not predictive of what will happen once tested in a human. It's also very important to note that regardless of the title, cinnamon as we typically find it was not used. It was powdered cinnamon bark treated with potassium chloride, and also does not specify the exact species used; we use 4 different kinds of Cinnamomum plants in cooking, and they may well have different proportions of active ingredients - considering their flavors can vary greatly between the species, this would not surprise me at all. Interesting preliminary info especially since it was taken in orally, but no reason to start gobbling cinnamon in bulk unless you're really in a bad place and willing to just try whatever, which I don't blame.

Third (scroll down) has only the abstract online that I saw. Here at least they specify the species, and it's an extract from Ceylon cinnamon, which is not the usual species commonly found in grocery stores. (That's cassia/Chinese cinnamon.) The abstract doesn't specify where the cells came from, and it's an in vitro study so they're not testing this on living subjects. I'll assume human subjects since it doesn't specify.

Fourth article - a mix of various herbs used in Chinese medicine (including an apparent cinnamon type) turned into an extract and injected directly into the hippocampus of mice.

So, what it boils down to is that these are all building blocks of possibly finding an effectiveness of oral intake of cinnamon extracts or other herbal-type extracts for treatment of Alzheimer's. There is no proof in these articles that this is definitely effective in living humans as a treatment at this time. And I am not qualified to speak on whether inhalation of anything is effective as a treatment intended to pass the blood-brain barrier, though my wild guess would be no.

This isn't proof that drug companies aren't interested. They will be interested once there is more direct evidence that an oral or other easy-to-administer preparation has a significant effect in humans.

I'm not trying to be a nay-sayer. If we found an easy to procure source that could be purified into a highly effective drug, that would be marvelous. But even when initial studies have promise, it is not at all uncommon for things to just not work - or have horrible side effects - once you get to the point of testing them in humans.

I work in medical research - not with a pharmaceutical company, but at a hospital where we do the testing on volunteers end of things. We are thrilled to test whatever - we've done vitamin studies (some of which did work!), pharmaceutical drugs, devices, all kinds of stuff. My specific area is ophthalmology.

We participated in one study that had a ton of promise. It was a small start-up company that had a fabulous idea, to help restore vision to people with a disease that had no treatments. The disorder eventually blinded everyone who had it, over time, with nothing that would help other than iffy reports on whether certain vitamins might slow the process, so doctors would tell patients to just go for it on the vitamins and hope. Theoretical and animal models showed promise for this new treatment. An initial study of a small number now-pretty-much-blind volunteers had some promise, so they raised money and went for it. A very small number of hospitals in the US started recruiting people, including where I work, and there were a lot of people eager to participate.

It got crazy when an international radio show found out about the study and made this sound like it was a guaranteed miracle. I came into work the next day and our voicemail boxes were full. People from around the world were begging to get into the study, even though we'd closed recruitment.

I still get phone calls and E-mails now and then, even though the study closed years ago. With the somewhat expanded test group... there was no measurable improvement. The initial tests were only on maybe 10 people, and I suspect those who showed improvement in those were maybe so deeply in despair at the start that they just didn't "try hard enough" to see hand motion or faint changes in light vs. darkness, and being in the study gave them enough hope to notice. (Trying is important in vision studies - this is why in later testing of different types of eye treatments, it's helpful for both the study subject and the vision tester to not know whether the subject is receiving the study medication or a placebo, as they may be encouraged to try harder if on the medication.) The company went bankrupt, the ownership of the treatment was sold off and put on a shelf somewhere.

Even large drug companies that bet on too many bad picks may really hurt their chances of continuing to exist, and even drugs extracted from plants require tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to test properly, not to mention several years at a minimum.

So this shows promise, possibly. But please, if you're desperate to try what seems like a low-risk treatment possibility, don't spend gobs of money to get questionable "extracts" from fly-by-night companies. Try to at least do some research to make sure that you know exactly what you're getting, and that you don't spend much to do it. No sense in poisoning yourself with pills or droppers full of bad stuff or losing lots of money to scammers.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 11-06-2011 at 09:19 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 11-06-2011, 09:44 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferret Herder View Post
So, what it boils down to is that these are all building blocks of possibly finding an effectiveness of oral intake of cinnamon extracts or other herbal-type extracts for treatment of Alzheimer's. There is no proof in these articles that this is definitely effective in living humans as a treatment at this time. And I am not qualified to speak on whether inhalation of anything is effective as a treatment intended to pass the blood-brain barrier, though my wild guess would be no.
Quoted for truth. (And thanks for doing such a great paper-by-paper breakdown, I was thinking of doing the same and now I don't have to )

Thing is, there are gobs of Very Exciting Preliminary Results that never lead anywhere productive. I've worked in a lab that's made some of those results, showing how certain mechanisms affect Alzheimers pathogenesis in an animal model. But the vast majority just don't pan out. The vast majority of treatments that works in cell culture or invertebrate models don't work in mouse models. And that continues, so that the vast majority of effective treatments for mouse models don't have the same effect in humans, or are accompanied by some unforeseen toxic effect.

So Lane has found a decent handful of preliminary research that links oxidative stress and Alzheimer's disease. That's promising, and definitely worth more investigation. But there's nowhere near enough evidence to prove a causal relationship, and certainly not enough to have a treatment for humans.

And far stronger hypothesis have failed. Again, consider the gamma-secretase inhibitor case I mentioned before. A pubmed search of "gamma secretase alzheimers" pulls up nearly two thousand papers on the topic, over twenty years of research. That's enough to convince the pharmacuetical companies to pursue clinical trials, and they did. But they failed spectacularly.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 11-06-2011, 12:28 PM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Thank you lazybratsche and Ferret Herder for your well-informed comments and caveats (and spelling correction). If you would like to do so, please also comment on the four studies listed above the ones which you responded to. The first, whose title should be "A natural scavenger of peroxynitrites, rosmarinic acid, protects against impairment of memory induced AB25-35", links peroxynitrites to short-term memory impairment and one peroxynitrite scavenger to protecting against this memory loss. The next three are small-scale, limited-time period trials with essential oils (tinctures in the Akhondzadeh trials and aromatherapy in the Jimbo trial). My main point is that not only have peroxynitrite scavengers been successful in mice and other models (which as both commentators note have limitations), they have also shown success in three (albeit limited) clinical trials (and in case studies, although I know scientists don't like case studies). I will make some more comments on a separate post.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 11-06-2011, 03:39 PM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
A few more comments on the use of aromatherapy in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Phenolic compounds cross the blood-brain barrier and through aromatherapy directly reach the hippocampus--the part of the brain most affected by Alzheimer's disease. The safest and probably the best form of cinnamon to use is Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) also known as true cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum). You can buy cinnamon leaf essential oil in this varieity. Cassia (Chinese) cinnamon contains a compound known as coumarin which can damage the liver in high doses. The compound in Ceylon cinnamon that scavenges peroxynitrites and possibly protects against and treats Alzheimer's disease is eugnenol--a methoxphenol (see studies by Chericoni and Irie in regards to eugenol). Tinctures of essential oils are more difficult to use than aromatherapy because if they are not diluted properly they can cause liver or kidney damage. The possible contraindications for the use of aromatherapy include allergies (headaches and nausea), possibly increased risk for seizures in some people, coma (if smelled for long periods of time), a possible increase in blood pressure, and cancer (eugenol which is an antioxidant at extremely high levels of exposure can be an oxidant). Other than allergies, there appears to be very little risk from the intermittent use of essential oils via aromatherapy. I am not saying that the evidence that aromatherapy can be used to treat Alzheimer's disease is irrefutable, I am just saying that evidence is very good.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 11-06-2011, 03:57 PM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Finally (for today at least), here is an explanation for why efforts to block the formation of amyloid plaques or to remove them have not been more successful. The pathway that leads to the formation of amyloid plaques (phospholipase C gamma or beta activation and the subsequent activation of protein kinase C and intracellular calcium release) is the same pathway that leads to the formation of peroxynitrites (the latter also involves the activation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and its activation of nuclear factor kappa b). When you limit the activation of phospholipase C gamma with phenolic compounds or polyunsaturated fats (such as Omega 3-fatty acids in fish oil), you likely delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. But peroxynitrites apparently begin doing their damage to g proteins coupled to receptors involved in smell and short-term memory even before the the amyloid precursor protein is cleaved to form amyloid plaques. The plaques further contribute to peroxynitrite levels by elevating homocysteine levels (by entombing zinc) and by leading to higher levels of superoxides (by entombing copper and zinc--two elements necessary to active the superoxide dismutase which converts superoxides into hydrogen peroxides. Peroxynitrites are formed from the combination of superoxide anions and inducible nitric oxide both of which are a product of nuclear factor kappa b activation). So if you reduce the formation of amyloid plaques or somehow dissolve them, you lessen the progression of Alzheimer's disease but you don't reverse it. Peroxynitrite scavengers appear to do the latter.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 11-06-2011, 04:05 PM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
A quick correction, superoxides form as a result of tumor necrosis factor-alpha's activatiion of NADPH oxidase.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 11-06-2011, 04:33 PM
Lane Simonian Lane Simonian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
I didn't mean to ignore the study on green tea, red light-laser, and Alzheimer's disease, which was quite interesting. Any means to increase the amount of phenolic compounds that reach the hippocampus is worth consideration.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 11-06-2011, 06:34 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Suspended
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 18,476
Face it..the human brain just isn't very good after 80 years of use.
Much better to download everything into RAM/HDD.
Then we can have immortality as well.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 11-06-2011, 08:31 PM
R. P. McMurphy R. P. McMurphy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 3,860
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Face it..the human brain just isn't very good after 80 years of use.
Much better to download everything into RAM/HDD.
Then we can have immortality as well.
In my earlier post I said that AD has hit close to home. To be more specific, early onset of AD has hit close to home. During a conference with an counselor at the Alzheimer's Association the counselor said "Unfortunately, business is booming. We are seeing more and more people that are contracting the disease at an early age." It's one thing to get the disease in your '80's, it's another thing to get it in your '50's.

A very few get it in their '40's. These are normally otherwise productive people that have their social and professional lives shut down at an age that far proceeds their expected retirement. It can destroy their marriage and their relationship with their family. This is a very debilitating disease.

Finding a cure isn't about saving people in their '80's and '90's, it's about giving a life back to people in their '40's, '50's and '60's.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:40 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.