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Japanese Scientists Make Alzheimers Progress 155

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the headway-for-head-drugs dept.
grammar fascist writes "The AP wire reports that Japanese medical researchers have developed a DNA-based vaccine that reduces the brain plaque beta amyloid without the severe brain inflammation that plagued successes in 2002. From the story 'The deposits have been cut by between 15.5 percent and 38.5 percent in mice, with no major side effects, researchers said Monday in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [...] If all goes well, this type of treatment might be available for people in six or seven years, [lead researcher Yoh Matsumoto] said.'"
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Japanese Scientists Make Alzheimers Progress

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  • by Sentri (910293) * on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:39PM (#15521336) Homepage
    Anyone else read the headline and think: "why have the japanese made people's alzheimer's worse"
    • Re:Headline Mix Up (Score:5, Informative)

      by grammar fascist (239789) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:45PM (#15521370) Homepage
      Anyone else read the headline and think: "why have the japanese made people's alzheimer's worse"

      When I submitted the story, I initially wrote the headline "Japanese Boffins Beat Alzheimer's Without Swelling," which, besides being much wittier, is obviously much clearer. Boffin swelling is a major problem in this type of research, and its defeat was very newsworthy.

      Darn you, ScuttleMonkey! Darn you to heck!
      • I much prefer that version, although the less snappy "Japanese Scientists Make Alzheimers Cure Progress" works as well (though I suppose could be interpreted as the scientists forcing Alzheimers to cure whatever the hell 'Progress' is).

        Or perhaps "Japanese Scientists Cure Alzheimers (99% swelling free, may contain traces of nuts)"
      • Because as everybody knows, it's not the itching it's the swelling.
    • Count me in. I don't read any 'why' into it, though, but this is some ambiguous wording, for sure. I originally thought it was about scientists making A. progress faster, as in: if you can do that, you can probably slow it down as well.
      OTOH, speeding up Alzheimer's disease - albeit maybe just temporarily, and probably just the symptoms only - is just as easy as refusing patients sufficient supplies of water, read: de-hydrate them on purpose. Which does not hold much value in terms of research.
    • Yep. Why would you want to make it progress? "Japanese Scientists Make Progress With Alzheimer's," would have been better, since there's no such thing as "Alzheimer's progress" anyway.
    • Ah, jolly good.

      Good to see I'm not the only one.

    • Hmm...I forgot.
  • by LiftOp (637065) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:42PM (#15521354) Homepage
    Always the mice. Again with the mice.

    Just ONCE I'd like to be cured of a disease ahead of the freakin' MICE.

    • Re:Mice. Always. (Score:3, Informative)

      by nog_lorp (896553) *
      Well, they are the supreme rulers of the universe, why do you think they always receive so much medical treatment?! As an aside, how is 4 minutes "not giving other slashdotters a chance to post"? I'm posting in a different damn article!
    • LiftOp: You can volunteer to be the first guinea pig to be tested on. :)
    • The mice need more help than we do. Everything causes cancer in mice.
  • It's too bad that they can only slow down the disease, instead of reversing it significantly or curing it.
    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:53PM (#15521406) Homepage
      Even if they can cure it, the damage to the brain has already been done. We are talking about major brain tissue loss here. I doubt even stem cell therapy would help much depending how much damage you've taken.

      Look at it this way. If you have Alzheimers, you're screwed! It's one of the many risks of being Human when you get older.
      • A cure wouldn't necessarily have to reverse the Alzheimers process, just halt it (rather than slowing it down). It's true that even then for the cure to be effective the disease would have to be caught in time. What is really needed, even with the drugs that slow down the decaying effect, is a better diagnosis plan.
    • by r00t (33219)
      Just forget about it.
    • "Reversing it significantly"...

      As opposed to reversing it insignificantly I suppose?
    • All that they really need to do is prevent its onset by about 10-15 years. If they could do this it would essentially eliminate the disease, as it arrives very late in life. They don't really need an outright cure, but some way to slow it down to the point where we will likely be dead from other things before we really have to worry about Alzheimers.

      There was a great documentary on PBS called "The Forgetting," which went into this, I highly recommend it. http://www.pbs.org/theforgetting/coping/plannin [pbs.org]
  • My Grandma (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sergeant Beavis (558225) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:48PM (#15521384) Homepage
    Can't wait six or seven years....

    SO GET CRACKIN!

    Fortunately, she can still remember everyone (after thinking about it for a few minutes), but she forgets what happened 2 minutes ago and gets easily confused. As you might suspect, she has to be cared for 24/7. Fortunately my Grandpa can be there for her. Unfortunately, a 90 year old man with a good brain still has a failing body to deal with.
    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:59PM (#15521432) Journal
      I'm 50. It'd be really nice if they've got that Alzheimer's vaccine down solid in 10 years and seriously improved by 20 years, because I really don't want to get it. It'll also be seriously good for US society if most of the baby boomers who would have been getting it avoid it, so you younger folks don't have to spend as much taking care of us, or at least can deal with mentally competent frail old people. While we're at it, I hope the get the cancer stuff nailed down.


      I've been doing various IT-like things my whole career, whether it's programming, consulting, or whatever. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm not particularly a biotech type, but I hope the tools we've built over the last few decades help the biotech folks do a much better job.

      • by xtal (49134) on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:04PM (#15521457)
        Kinda makes you think about taking up smoking, eh?

        Well you know. Smoking takes ten years off your life." Well it's the ten worst years, isn't it folks? It's the ones at the end! It's the wheelchair kidney dialysis fucking years. You can have those years!

        Food for thought, as I watch my relatives fall victim to severe mental deterioration.
        • by glitch! (57276) on Monday June 12, 2006 @11:23PM (#15521785)
          Kinda makes you think about taking up smoking, eh?

          You probably don't know how insightful your comment really is. There seems to be evidence of a link between alzheimers and acetylcholine in the brain and nicotine helping the overall situation. More study is obviously needed for us to find out if nicotine really does help treat or prevent alzheimers or if it is just some chance anomoly.

          Food for thought, as I watch my relatives fall victim to severe mental deterioration.

          Please, do a google search for "nicotine alzheimer's acetylcholine" and/or similar terms and see if you can dig up anything useful to your situation. I lost one of my grandfathers two decades ago to alzheimers and commercial tobaccco related diseases. Note the key point of commercial/poisonous tobacco here. He had to quit smoking many years before alzheimers kicked in, and now I have to wonder whether nicotine patches (or whatever) might have prevented the truly gut wrenching problems of alzheimers in his last few years of life.
          • by emh203 (815620)
            Kinda makes you think about taking up smoking, eh?

            What a stupid comment. You really think that lung cancer is a peaceful way to die? Painfully wasting away in a bed isn't much better. I am watching my Mother-in-law go through this with that same attitude.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Smoking doesn't just shorten your life. It also makes the last bit of it terrible. You very well may trade getting Alzheimer's in your 80's for getting emphysema in your 70's (being unable to breathe without an oxygen tank sucks).
        • by Eivind (15695)
          Except smoking significantly reduces your healthy years too. Smokers don't just on the average die sooner than non-smokers -- they also on the average get sick sooner. Really, it's a nonsense argument, if you really considered living those last sick years a net detriment rather than a net benefit, suicide at the point where you get sick would be the only logical choise.

          Somehow, most people change their mind on this the minute they are sick. (ok, so some old people do commit suicide, but it's not exactly t

        • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @02:26AM (#15522325) Journal
          Dying from emphysema isn't a more pleasant alternative.

          -jcr
          • My grandmother died from lung cancer (smoking).

            I'm watching my father and grandfather die from mental deterioration brought on by Pick's Disease and Alzheimers.

            I'd take the lung cancer in a second. YMMV.

        • Food for thought, as I watch my relatives fall victim to severe mental deterioration.

          The prospect of losing your mind is far scarier than actually losing it. Because when it actually happens you won't know its missing. Its much harder on those around you.

          That said, the early stage Alzheimer's victims I know, while afraid, very pragmatically, just want to make the most of the time they have left before they are gone, exactly what most healthy elderly people say.

          Is choking to death on a cancerous lung really
        • Smoking doesn't avoid those years - it just makes them happen sooner.

      • There are some nify algorithms for searching DNA sequences, and unspeakable data loads from some experiments (not quite as bad as high energy physics but severe).

        There's lots of room for an IT person to contribute to biotech.
      • I completely agree. My grandfather recently died from Alzheimer's after a relatively short bout with it: he went from diagnosis to end-stage in about four years. According to the Wikipedia page, this time span is on the low end. For me, the hardest part about it wasn't its effects on my grandfather, whom I had known reasonably well, but on my father, who's 47 years old and is now convinced that the same thing will happen to him. If this gets developed, it will offer him one of the most important things: pea
      • by slughead (592713) on Monday June 12, 2006 @11:11PM (#15521731) Homepage Journal
        There's a huge link* to obesity + under-stimulation in the brain and Alzheimer's.

        If you don't want to get it, keeping fit and doing brain-stimulation exercises (like programming) may* help.

        * please note that I used the word 'may' in regards to a 'link', before you reply

        At the very least, they have proven that your IQ raises and lowers depending on how stimulating your life is... There is also a strong correlation between getting girls and not being obese, which is always nice.
    • "Old age isn't for sissies" -- Larry Niven

      What were we talking about?

    • I had the same problem affecting my family. Unfortunately my grandpa's ailing body caught up with him, leaving my clueless grandmother. She's at the point now where she can't recognize herself in a mirror or what a mirror even does, for that matter. At least I'm glad she doesn't know it's happening to her.
    • Damn it's frustrating reading this kind of stuff when you know someone who has a disease like this.

      My pop has ALS, and I read stuff about cures for Mice all the time, with the 5 to 10 year plan to develop the cure for humans. And of course he can't politely wait that long.

      All kinds of nasty conditions seem to be on the verge of a cure.... in 5 years time.
    • Re:My Grandma (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jamesh (87723) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @04:18AM (#15522586)
      I know it's a very sensitive issue, but why don't they have programs to test medications like this on people are basically doomed anyway. You don't get better from alzheimers disease. Sometimes you stop getting worse, but you don't get better.

      I'd be quite happy to sign something now to the effect of "if I have dementia to the point where I don't even know who I am any more, and there is a potential cure or treatment, sign me up.". If it kills me, or shortens my remaining life then I haven't really lost much, those around me will have gained something as caring for someone like that is a huge burden (and often significantly shortens the life of the spouse if they are still alive), and will benefit the scientists who are testing the treatment, even if its "oh well... so it doesn't work on people afterall".

      It's probably a bit late to ask me once my mind is gone though.

      With alzheimers though, can they tell yet if it's that or something else without taking your brain out of year head and chopping it up? I remember quite a few years (>10) ago when I had a relative who was thus aflicted, there was lots of initial misdiagnosises (or whatever the plural of that word is), and they basically said that they only way to be sure was to wait until the patient had passed away.
      • The previous human tests on a similar therapy ended up with a number of people in excrutiating pain due to their immune system attacking parts of their brain. While it might suck to have alzheimers, it surely sucks more to have it and be in horrible pain.
    • My girlfriend's father was diagnosed less than three years ago and can't even speak to anyone now, he just mutters. Most of the time he recognises everyone though, including me (who he has only known during the last 3 years). When I met him originally he was still able to drive (though probably shouldn't have been), could hold a conversation with you, and knew how to get himself a cup of tea. Less than three years on he can do none of that, and it is really shocking to see him on a bad day - he just sits st
  • by hsmith (818216) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:51PM (#15521402)
    You make new friends every day!
  • by domc (11897)
    I've also heard that nicotine also slows the effects of Alzheimers.
    • Re:Tobacco (Score:2, Funny)

      by Joebert (946227)
      I've also heard that nicotine also slows the effects of Alzheimers.

      And here all this time I thought grandpa walked around with one of thoose patches on his forehead because he was crazy.
  • Alzheimer's Programs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:57PM (#15521422)
    Wyeth and Elan have a drug, AAB-001, which is a follow-up to AN-1792, the drug described as causing brain swelling 2 years ago, except AAB-001 doesn't cause brain swelling and is in Phase II trials (i.e., in humans, and not monkeys), and should be in Phase III at the end of this year. AAB-001 reduces amyloid plaque build-up and there is some anecdotal evidence coming out of the Phase II trial that some patients have achieved significant improvement (although no patient can know for sure they are on AAB-001 since it is a blinded trial.) No need to look towards the Japanese for significant Alzheimer's research, Elan and Wyeth have several programs addressing this horrible disease and are way ahead of the pre-IND drugs described in this article.
    • Elan has quite an impressive pipeline:

      http://www.elan.com/research_development/Pipeline _ Products/default.asp [elan.com]

      In addition to AAB-001, which is currently in phase II trials, they also have AAB-002 and AAC-001. AAB-001, and AAB-002 are passive immunization agents using mono-clonal antibodies, and AAC-001 is an active immunization agent using an Immunoconjugate. Rumors are that AAB-001 is extremely efficacious. If this is true, it could conceivably be approved after phase II testing on an accelerated basis

  • by McBainLives (683602) on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:01PM (#15521446)
    You're not supposed to make it progress, you're supposed to make it slow down!!!

    Oh, wait- /grumble

    Darn RSS headline-only POS...
  • Alzheimer's progresses on its own.
  • When I did biochemistry back in the day, the plaques were obviously in greater amounts in those with the disease, but these plaques were on everyone's brains. Nobody knew if this was the cause of the disease or an effect of the disease. Has this changed? Is there now proof that the plaques actually cause the disease?

    Has someone shown yet what they actually do?

    • symptoms vs. cause (Score:2, Informative)

      by nido (102070)
      you are correct to question the relationship between these plaques and the dementia known as alzheimers.

      To paraphrase a quote:

      'Modern medicine had tried to cure the symptoms of disease. The Cayce readings focused on building a healthy body that could throw off disease and disorder.' (emphasis added. pretty sure the quote is from With This Gift [amazon.com].)

      The problem with curing a symptom is that the cause of the problem always manifests itself in a new form.

      For example, the primary factor in polio outbreaks was th
      • 'Modern medicine had tried to cure the symptoms of disease. The Cayce readings focused on building a healthy body that could throw off disease and disorder.'

        On the other hand, my wife died of an incurable brain tumor, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Curing that "symptom" would have been nice...for now.

        • On the other hand, my wife died of an incurable brain tumor, Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Curing that "symptom" would have been nice...for now.

          Even a cancerous tumor is a symptom of some other problem. Consider Dr. Hamer's findings on the relationship between the psyche and disease:

          Dr. Hamer realized that his wife's death and his own cancer had to be connected somehow with the tragic shooting and eventual death of their son, Dirk. As a medical doctor, scientific researcher and head internist of an oncolo

    • Although plaques are one of the hallmarks of the disease, they're probably not the cause. As you pointed out, healthy brain tissue contains plaques, and plaque formation isn't necessarily correlated with the progression of the disease.

      However, beta-amyloid seems to play a significant role. "Older" patients with Down's syndrome often develop Alzheimer's disease, and this is thought to be due to additional expression of APP (amyloid precursor protein), which is the precursor of beta-amyloid. The gene for A
  • by GrpA (691294) on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:12PM (#15521481)
    After last night's soccer loss to Australia 3:1, it seems that most Japanese just want to forget...

    GrpA.

    Heh, But seriously, great research. Good to hear.
  • Folding@Home (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nacturation (646836) <nacturation@@@gmail...com> on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:17PM (#15521499) Journal
    Rather than waiting for ET to call or look for prime numbers, donate your spare CPU cycles to running the Folding@Home [stanford.edu] client. Its goal is to find out why proteins (mis)fold and how that affects things like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Cancer, Huntington's, and related diseases. Damn, would it be cool to have it be my computer that identified an alien signal... but since a close relative has been diagnosed with Parkinson's I'd much rather do something that's more immediately beneficial.

    It'd be interesting to hear if/how the Folding@Home project has helped out groups like this.
     
    • Along this same vein is the Rosetta@Home project. Both are worthy causes and I would definitely recommend both of them.
      • I agree, both Rosetta@Home and Folding@Home are good projects.

        One should point out, to those confused by the research being announced as having come from Japanese, Canadian, and American scientists, that many such scientific papers are as a result of collaboration of a number of scientists and/or labs, frequently in multiple countries.

        Or, you could just go to Nature Medicine [nature.com] and look it up yourself. That's where the original article that the news is based on is located.
    • Nice post. Is there ant sort of referal program so you piggy back from people you've got to join up?

      I have a 3 gig processor and dont do much but chat and surf most the time so figure I should put that to good use and run it.
      • Is there ant sort of referal program so you piggy back from people you've got to join up?

        You can create a team and then see how well the team does as a whole. That's about the only kind of thing I can think of. Google did this with their Google toolbar... if you enable the Folding@Home part, you are part of their team.
         
    • Aliens already have the folding problem solved.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    New Alzheimer's Vaccine Reverses Memory Loss
    05.31.06

    http://www.byrdinstitute.org/news/institute-news/0 5-31-06.asp [byrdinstitute.org]

  • I only hope they can reverse it and make it regress!

    Heh.

  • I hope this and other stuff like this works before I get my onset... as a kid I had a bad habit of chewing aluminum can tabs, and I'm sure significan quantities broke off over the years...
    • I wouldn't worry about it.

      I think the latest scientific evidence is that aluminum has nothing to do with Altzheimers.

    • Re:Aluminum... (Score:5, Informative)

      by alchemist68 (550641) on Monday June 12, 2006 @11:29PM (#15521813)
      I hope this and other stuff like this works before I get my onset... as a kid I had a bad habit of chewing aluminum can tabs, and I'm sure significan quantities broke off over the years...

      ALUMINUM DOES NOT CAUSE ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. This is a fallacy due to a Biologist not knowing how to operate an electron microscope. At that time, the "Aluminum" in Alheimer's patients' brains was the result of the biologist having the electron intensity turned-up too high, and instead of detecting just brain tissue, the biologist detected the Aluminum support holding the brain tissue.

      So, the moral of the story is: KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING IN THE LABORATORY AND HAVE ACCURATE AND PRECISE DATA ANALYSIS WITH MEANINGFUL REPLICATION OF EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS BEFORE PUBLISHING IN JOURNALS!!!

      It's been more than 10 years and the public still thinks that using products with "Aluminum", i.e. soda cans, anti-perspirant, etc... will cause/contribute to Alzheimer's disease. Wrong Wrong Wrong!!!
      • Please cite a reference, since Google doesn't back you up.

        The information I've seen fails to establish a direct link between aluminum and Alzheimer's, but doesn't disprove it either.
        • Some study by Brown in 1992 says that the discovery of aluminum was due to the misuse of a chemical agent in that first study.

          Keep searching, there's info out there that seems to back this up.
        • Re:Aluminum... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Emnar (116467)

          Please cite a reference, since Google doesn't back you up.

          I'm not sure about the GP's story, but here are two web references:

          National Institute of Health [nih.gov]:

          Epidemiological studies attempting to link AD with exposures in drinking water have been inconclusive and contradictory. Thus, the significance of increased aluminum intake with regard to onset of AD has not been determined.

          Alzheimer's Society (UK) [alzheimers.org.uk]:

          The overwhelming medical and scientific opinion is that the findings outlined above do not co

      • I'm Alcoa [alcoa.com] Director, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer Alain J. P. Belda and I approve of the preceding message.

        I can't understand why you alarmist types would be trying to obfuscate the clearly valid factoids and overall truthiness of the article by demanding to see things like "sources" and "citations".

        Why, the fact that this post contains copious amounts of capitalized letters, many exclamation points, and a passionate cry for understanding should indeed be enough to satisfy the most critical eye

      • are you sure...? Cause I read this article... and I mean, what are the chances of Articles being wrong?

        No but seriously, any sources to back you up cause I'd like to start using deodorant again.
      • http://www.sciam.com/askexpert_question.cfm?artic l eID=0000FCD2-AA88-1C71-9EB7809EC588F2D7&catID=3 [sciam.com]

        seems to suggest that aluminium has no proven effect either way, many other articles seem to go with the traditional alumium causes alzheimers desease. many state scientists disagree.

        however it seems aluminium is unavoidable and that since we are all universally exposed the incidence of alzheimers should be higher. Maybe i will try to avoid aluminium when I have lost a significant amount of weight and have
  • by MarkRose (820682)

    Japanese Scientists Make Alzheimers Progress

    So if we eliminate the Japanese scientists, would it slow Alzheimer's down?

  • I make a lot of new friends.

    Is that you, Clarence? I haven't seen you for years. Do you remember the time the Mercury backfired and almost tore your arm off while you were trying to get it started? Those were the days alright.

    Anyway . . . what was I talking about?

    Alzheimer's isn't so bad.

    Is that you Clarence. . . ?
  • "Alzheimer's disease will overwhelm the nation's Medicare system in less than 25 years unless scientists find a way to prevent or cure it." [ Tulsaworld.com [tulsaworld.com]] The article also states that more than a third of current Medicare expenditures are related to Alzheimer's and that figure will grow quickly as the U.S. population ages. Now if those figures are true its about time they (the men in white coats) found a cure for this disease. It is also remarkably (as well as suspiciously) timely. Guess they knew this w
  • Those smart researchers. They researched a.. uh... DNA... vaccine... hmmm.. uh, shoot, what was I talking about? Oh well. When's lunch?
  • First off it was obvious from the Elan trials that suddenly making a protein abundant in plaques in the brain (amyloid beta) into an antigen would lead to inflammation.... what were they thinking!

    Immunotherapy has been successfully used in multiple mouse models of AD, including peripheral active and passive immuunisation. But here is the question: Is removing extracellular amyloid plaques in human AD going to cure the disease?? The probable answer is no, more and more researchers are showing that plaq
  • Just in time for my Alzheimer's-suffering father to have kicked.

    Yay. :(
  • I was going to crack a joke about the title and summary, but I've seriously forgotten what I was going to say.

    Either way, my gran had alzheimers for a few years before she passed away. It's a horrible affliction, and it's always good to see progress being made in these areas.

  • "Japanese Scientists Make Alzheimers Progress"

    Uh, shouldn't we be trying to STOP the progress of Alzheimers?
  • Wait, I mispronounced -- I meant to say Canadians [www.cbc.ca]

    Damn. Did it again. I really meant to say Americans [seniorjournal.com].

  • on multiplec sclerosis as well, I have a friend suffering from it, this is a dreadful disease, and also based on inflammation of the brain.
  • Perhaps one day I might be able to benefit from this discovery. Perhaps one day I might be able to benefit from this discovery. Waffles Neptune.
  • Stop it, guys, you're supposed to slow down or reverse Alzheimer, not make it progress!
  • However when asked to comment about the research, the researchers immediately forgot why they were doing and, and they went home.
  • by GmAz (916505)
    What about the minor ones. I am sorry, but violent vomiting, diaherrea, abdominal cramping, bleeding from somewhere, migraines, and all that other stuff considered minor side effects aren't worth it. Live in pain and agony or live with Alzheimers. Plus the vaccine only helps a little. Its a great start, but lets stop it 100%.

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