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Japanese Scientists Make Alzheimers Progress 155

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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  • Re:Headline Mix Up (Score:5, Informative)

    by grammar fascist ( 239789 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:45PM (#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!
  • Re:Mice. Always. (Score:3, Informative)

    by nog_lorp ( 896553 ) * on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:47PM (#15521379)
    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!
  • Alzheimer's Programs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:57PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 12, 2006 @11:24PM (#15521525)
    New Alzheimer's Vaccine Reverses Memory Loss

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

  • by grisken ( 776441 ) <heno@helges.net> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:01AM (#15521688) Homepage Journal
    "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 was coming
  • by slughead ( 592713 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:11AM (#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.
  • Re:Aluminum... (Score:5, Informative)

    by alchemist68 ( 550641 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:29AM (#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.


    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!!!
  • by kim69 ( 707440 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:30AM (#15521815)
    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 plaques are an end point - a protective state of amyloid that traps free floating "harmfull" amyloid into a dense core where it cant do any harm.

    The harmfull effects of amyloid are being shown to be mediated by the soluble and oligomeric species - that is a single amyloid peptide or a bunch stuck together, usually with a mass of less than 100kda. So far we dont know if immunotherapy in humans will affect these harmful "amyloids" or not. The post mortem results from the Elan trials were pesimestic at best - patients who recieved the injections had reduced amyloid plaque burden, but cognitively, at best (and this is from the company line) did not cognitively deteriate as fast as without the antibodies.

    Either way I'll put my money on a nice BACE inhibitor. Forget about the gamma-secretase ones, thats one complex you really dont want to be messing with!
  • symptoms vs. cause (Score:2, Informative)

    by nido ( 102070 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {65odin}> on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:01AM (#15521916) Homepage
    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 the large amount of sugar consumed in industrial countries:

    ... The fact that polio has not been prevented by advanced sanitation and hygiene indicates that its incidence is controlled and influenced by factors quite different from the factors that bring about the spread of typhoid and the other diseases. As previously stated, advanced sanitation and hygiene are to be found in the richer countries, and one of the unfortunate evils that accompany wealth is the consumption of sugar in the form of luxury foods such as ice cream, candies, soft drinks, cakes, pies, pastries, and the like. Poor countries cannot afford luxury foods, sanitation and hygiene. That is how I would explain the greater incidence of polio in countries with advanced sanitation and hygiene. The following table shows the extreme differences in sugar consumption in various parts of the world and it will be readily noted that the countries with the lowest sugar consumption are most backward in sanitation and hygiene.

    Thus we see that sugar consumption is by far the greatest in the richer countries where one would also expect to find advanced sanitation and hygiene. Epidemics have occurred with the greatest frequency and severity in the high sugar consuming countries. In fact, epidemics have never been reported in the natives of the low sugar consuming countries, such as China.

    -http://www.whale.to/v/sandler12.html [whale.to]

    Sure, polio was conquered by a vaccine. But now we have epidemics of cancer, heart disease, alzheimers, and many other degenerative diseases.

    I suspect that my greatgrandparents were much healthier than my grandparents. They lived their lives, and had a relatively quick decline (1-2 years?) before they died. My grandparents have been living in a long, slow (multi-decade) downward spiral into infirmity. Improvements in lifespan today can primarily be attributed to modern sewage systems, and improved survival rates for children less than 5.

    The medical monopoly just takes credit where no credit is due.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @01:49AM (#15522080)
    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 LazyDino ( 982072 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @05:14AM (#15522572)
    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 APP is found on chromosome 21, the extra chromosome found in Down's syndrome patients. People with early-onset forms of Alzheimer's often have mutations in genes that are related to APP processing. Beta-amyloid seems to be upstream in the pathway that causes the hyperphosphorylation of tau, which is the protein involved in tangles, the other hallmark of the disease. Vaccination experiments involving beta-amyloid show reduced neurotoxicity and the resoration of long-term potentiation (LTP), a mechanism involved in memory formation.

    In spite of all this evidence, APP and beta-amyloid are found in healthy brain tissue, so there's something else at work that involves beta-amyloid but not plaques. Some researchers believe that small, soluble oligomers of beta-amyloid (sometimes referred to as ADDLs) are the neurotoxic forms of amyloid-beta. ADDLs retard LTP, and they specifically target synapses. LTP is restored by vaccinations against ADDLs.

    So what causes ADDL formation? Unfortunately, we don't know. Beta-amyloid may turn out to be a "cause" of Alzheimer's disease, but in turn, there must be a reason why the body loses the ability to keep beta-amyloid in check.
  • by Bozdune ( 68800 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @07:35AM (#15522903)
    Um, actually you DO know you're losing it. That's even scarier.
  • by emh203 ( 815620 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @08:39AM (#15523149)
    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 on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @09:16AM (#15523341)
    There is substantial evidence indicating that that amyloid plaques are not, in fact, pathalogical themselves. It is possible that these inert findings are the body's way of taking soluble beta-amyloid out of circulation where there is growing evidence that it has a pathological role. There are many diseases where these plaques are present, and the link to dementia is loose. While this may seem promising, I would be more interested in associated behavioral data in mice indicating that their mental decline slows down.

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