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Alzheimer's Transmission Pathway Discovered

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the when-it's-all-greek-to-you dept.

Medicine 154

smitty777 writes "Two separate studies by the Taub Institute and Harvard have discovered the pathway used by Alzheimer's Disease to spread through the brain. The studies indicate it's not a virus, but a distorted protein called Tau which moves from cell to cell. Further, the discovery 'may now offer scientists a way to move forward and develop a way to block tau's spread in Alzheimer's patients, said Karen Duff, a researcher at Columbia's Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's disease and co-author of one study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One. "It's enlightening for us because it now provides a whole other area for potential therapeutic impact," said Duff. "It's possible that you can identify the disease and intervene (with potential tau-blocking drugs) before the dementia actually sets in."'"

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154 comments

Does this mean? (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915667)

Does this suggest that it may be hazardous to produce soylent green from Alzheimer's casualties, in the same way that consumption of tissue from animals affected by prion disorders is considered unwise?

Re:Does this mean? (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915739)

Perhaps this is what makes soylent green so delicious? If so, then I consider it an acceptable risk.

Re:Does this mean? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915743)

Probably. And you wouldn't want to cannibalize them in the traditional way, either.

Re:Does this mean? (5, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916103)

I've never heard of anything to suggest that Alzheimers can be "caught." A seminar I saw a few years ago on tau suggested that in order to form these aggregates of tau, you need to have a mutated form of it: normal tau does not start clumping up and killing brain cells (not entirely sure I'm remembering that correctly). It's only transmissible between cells which have the same mutant form of the protein. I don't know, maybe it's possible that material from alzheimers patients could make the disease appear sooner in people with the mutant form who would probably develop symptoms later.

The prion protein that is at the heart of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, on the other hand, that appears to be the normal protein misfolding. The diseased proteins seem to convince normal proteins to misfold.

So, as I understand it, the hypothesis is that if you were to inject material from an alzheimer's patient's brain into your brain, for example, the alzheimer's Tau would not cause your tau to start clumping up and would not cause the disease. If you injected brain material from someone suffering from spongiform encephalitis though, the proteins in your brain WOULD be coaxed to start clumping up, causing the disease.

Let's not test those hypotheses though...

Re:Does this mean? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916267)

I've never heard of anything to suggest that Alzheimers can be "caught." A seminar I saw a few years ago on tau suggested that in order to form these aggregates of tau, you need to have a mutated form of it: normal tau does not start clumping up and killing brain cells (not entirely sure I'm remembering that correctly).

Uh-oh! You better get tested for Tau proteins right away...

Re:Does this mean? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916817)

Right away I also wondered if it was a prion-like issue with malformed tau proteins. Has anyone confirmed whether the structure and orientation (left vs right) of the free tau protein is identical to that of normal tau?

As far as I know tau protein is used to maintain microtubules in cells. Maybe something is damaging the microtubules and the free tau is just a result of this or the tau is malformed to start with and it results in cells dying from defective microtubules.

Absolutely. Every self-respecting cannible knows (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916481)

the dangers posed by Kuru [wikipedia.org]

In other words, Alzhimers is a prion disease (2, Interesting)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916849)

In other words, Alzhimer's is a prion disease, much like Kuru. Also, I suspect, much like Multiple Sclerosis.

The difference is that Kuru is a disease gotten by eating human flesh, and even tigers that eat it will be able to get it from humans.

Scrappie comes from sheep. Mad cow comes from cows. Even deer have their own prion disease. If I had to guess what MS comes from, I'd guess pig meat.

So what's Alzhimer's come from? I suspect it comes from sausage. More specifically, from rats. Anyhow, that's where I'd start looking.

Re:In other words, Alzhimers is a prion disease (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917347)

You have a lot of unsubstantiated suspicions.

The thing about prions is that they are not just a transmissible disease. They can spontaneously be generated by environmental factors deforming an existing protein.

They also do not say that this malformed tau protein is capable of corrupting normal protein, which would be required before it could be a transmissible prion.

At last Zombies can now be explained (1)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916679)

They don't eat brains because they're zombies, they are zombies because they eat brains from Alzheimer's casualties.

Pesky protiens (2)

Dave Whiteside (2055370) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915673)

It's always the proteins ... Prions , Tau etc... can we not just ban them 2112 - year of the protein seriously though - it looks like a good start

Re:Pesky protiens (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916081)

It's always the proteins ...
Prions , Tau etc...
can we not just ban them

2112 - year of the protein

seriously though - it looks like a good start

So its Tau then. Sounds like six sigma work.

Awesome (5, Informative)

chinton (151403) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915683)

After watching my dad ravaged body (by bone cancer) and mind (by Alzheimer's), anything that may some day lead to prevention is great news.

Re:Awesome (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915745)

Jesus, that is about as awful of a combination as I can imagine. Sorry to hear that... I would imagine (and have seen the effects) of someone losing touch on reality, and personally think that is one of the worst things that can inflict someone.

Re:Awesome (5, Insightful)

quark101 (865412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915807)

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease, not just for the person who has it, but especially so for those who are close to the afflicted. The slow, degenerative, wasting of the mind is horrifying to watch, as the person that was once bright and lively gets turned into a shell of their former self. Not able to grasp what's going on around them, or who they're talking to, the person can easily become terrified, lost, and confused, made all the more painful by the fact that they don't know who their children are or why they're here.

I know that identifying the underlying cause and developing a treatment are often worlds apart, but I'm glad nonetheless to see this advancement, if merely for the fact that one day others won't have to experience the pain I did as I watched people I love succumb to Alzheimer's.

Re:Awesome (5, Interesting)

thomst (1640045) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916779)

quark101 opined:

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease, not just for the person who has it, but especially so for those who are close to the afflicted. The slow, degenerative, wasting of the mind is horrifying to watch, as the person that was once bright and lively gets turned into a shell of their former self. Not able to grasp what's going on around them, or who they're talking to, the person can easily become terrified, lost, and confused, made all the more painful by the fact that they don't know who their children are or why they're here.

I know that identifying the underlying cause and developing a treatment are often worlds apart, but I'm glad nonetheless to see this advancement, if merely for the fact that one day others won't have to experience the pain I did as I watched people I love succumb to Alzheimer's.

Amen to that.

Last August, my mother was diagnosed with "mild to moderate" Alzheimer's. I had been certain for some time prior to then that she had the disease. She would sometimes repeat as if it had just occurred to her a story she'd told me just minutes earlier, she'd get stuck trying to recall the names of people she'd known for years (such as her 22-year-old granddaughter), and was only strongly confident about the details of events long past. In November, she was examined by two doctors at the Copper Ridge Institute (which is affiliated with Johns Hopkins), which specializes in Alzheimer's research and treatment. She knew the President of the U.S. was black, but couldn't recall his name, thought my youngest sister was 40 (she turned 53 in December), and couldn't remember which day of the week it was (it was Friday).

I call her at least once a week, and she seems to deteriorate more every time I speak with her - and yet, she's still fundamentally the same warm, sweet, vibrant woman she's been as long as I've known her. Just ... a little confused. What I fear is that, over time, she will lose all the memories that make her that person. I've known several people with advanced Alzheimer's, and watched them become progressively emptier shells of themselves, until they're little more than slack-jawed zombies, incapable of caring for themselves, or communicating with others - and I don't want to see that happen to my Mom.

But I know it will, because none of these new discoveries will make it out of the lab in time to save her from the ravages of this loathsome disease. And that breaks my heart.

Re:Awesome (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917599)

Same thing happened to my gran.

It's like being forced to watch an extremely bad car crash in slow motion - so slow it takes place over the course of years rather than seconds. You know what's happening from quite early on in the process, you've got a pretty good idea of how it's going to pan out in the end, you can tell from the pace at which things progress that the end may be some time away and you're powerless to stop it.

Re:Awesome (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916865)

It is a truly evil disease. I think my mom was going down that path so when she died almost instantly from a massive stroke I saw it as a bit of a blessing for everyone. Beats watching her soul slowly get scooped out of her (and probably hellish for them too).

Re:Awesome (2)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916893)

Yep. When my grandmother died, after a long bout with Alzheimer's, my reaction was, "That's not her. That's a thing that *used to be* her."

Re:Awesome (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915869)

I don't have anything insightful to add, but I feel compelled to say fuck you, cancer and double fuck you, Alzheimer's. Thank you for your attention.

Re:Awesome (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916167)

I don't have anything insightful to add, but I feel compelled to say fuck you, cancer and double fuck you, Alzheimer's. Thank you for your attention.

Heh...yeah. Every single person in my family for the past 3 generations, with only two exceptions, both maternal and paternal has died in their early 70's or before from cancer. The exceptions: one of my cousins committed suicide, and one of my grandfathers survived into his 80's only to succumb to Alzheimer's. I got to watch a truly brilliant man, who I've always considered far more intelligent than I, become unable to understand the most simple concepts, followed by slowly becoming more and more unresponsive. Eventually, he wouldn't react at all to anybody visiting him, he would just sit there in his chair, or lie in a bed, or wherever it was that anyone led him to be. I can't think of a worst way to go.

My parents are still alive, but my father has already been diagnosed with prostate cancer (he's in his early 60's), and my mother pretty much refuses to go to the doctor for anything, because she figures it's only a matter of time before they find something, and she'd rather not know about it since she has already decided she would refuse to go through chemo anyway.

In other words, my genes suck, and as a result I feel strongly compelled to join you. Fuck Cancer and Fuck Alzheimer's..

Re:Awesome (2, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916443)

I don't mean to pry, but why on Earth would your mother refuse chemo? These days most cancers (not all, by any means, but most) are extremely treatable and survivable if caught early. It's unpleasant for a few months, but with a few exception you'll mostly always survive and be fine. It's not like it was 30 years ago where you were looking at 50-50 odds at best and the treatment was worse than the disease. I personally know literally half a dozen cancer survivors just among my family and people that I am close enough to to know their medical history. Most are as fit and active as ever now.

Re:Awesome (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917793)

It's not as simple as that.

It's much easier to successfully treat cancer in its early stages. Which is great if you're "lucky" enough to be struck down with a type that tends to be easily detectable at early stages. Testicular and breast cancer fall into this category - it's pretty damn obvious if you've got a lump on one of your testicles.

Cancers that start deep inside the body - things like lung, liver, pancreas cancer - often don't show much in the way of symptoms until you're at a pretty advanced stage. By which time you'd be well advised to get your affairs in order.

Source: No particular expertise, but my wife works in radiotherapy and treats people with cancer all day long.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38917629)

My father, uncle and grandfather all died from cancer in their late 60s. My mother is 85 and has been slowly dying from Alzheimer's for the past 5 years. On good days she knows who I am. Those days are getting less and less frequent. Between cancer and Alzheimer's, I would have to say that Alzheimer's is worse.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916233)

How about growing up?

Re:Awesome (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916357)

Triple fuck growing up

Re:Awesome (2)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916991)

McDonald's supersize meals can work as a preventative measure. Take one daily and you are unlikely to die of cancer or get Alzheimers. ;)

p.s. you might die a bit earlier though.

I, for one.. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915697)

I, for one, welcome our.. I, for one, welcome..

Tau (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915751)

Xenoflesh in the human brain? Clearly the apothecaries have failed in purging this scum from our fellow men. The only solution is Exterminatus. The Emperor Protects!

Let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915763)

Let me guess... are they testing this on Chimps? Hail Ceasar...

Great news (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915771)

I'm certain Sir Pterry [terrypratchett.co.uk] is following this with considerable interest.

Re:Great news (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915801)

That was my first thought too. Knowing what little I do of him, he'd probably be the first in line to volunteer for human experimental studies of this.

Re:Great news (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917837)

That was my first thought too. Knowing what little I do of him, he'd probably be the first in line to volunteer for human experimental studies of this.

And not out of selfishness, but to benefit others with his experience.

I have attended a few of his readings, over the past 6 years and he had first explained he thought he'd suffered some kind of minor stroke, the following year he came through town with another reading and shed more light on his experience. Finally there was the "embuggerance" note posted publicly after the diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer's. He has tried many treatments and has been advocating Right To Die.

You can see how he has grown tremedously from his experience and is now a great champion of research and rights.

Well done him. I hope they can develop something to halt the progress of this insidious malady.

Notice where the study was done (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915789)

It was done at a University by students who probably weren't paid. It wasn't done by a pharmaceutical lab. Remember that when the drug companies try to justify charging your parents $2000 for a one month supply of Alzheimer medication.

They spend more on advertising then R&D.

Re:Notice where the study was done (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915889)

Yeah, because 'found a protein' is totally the same as 'developed and tested a drug to fix said problem'. Dumbass.

Re:Notice where the study was done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915909)

All this really means, is that the corrupt pharmaceutical and medical insurance industries will never allow anything useful from this to legally reach the common man.

Re:Notice where the study was done (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915975)

Welcome to our circle of lying shitball shrills. Note that this isn't a medicine. Note further that chemicals with medicinal properties do not a medicine make. Then, deny all of that. We should have taxed the fucking rich (Henry Taub, founder of ADP) instead of allowing him to donate the money that funds the organization doing this research.

Re:Notice where the study was done (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916039)

While I agree that the pharmaceutical businesses is a complete disaster area in terms of cures-per-dollar, you can't point at one publicly funded study and use it as evidence of that fact. It's spectacularly irrational.

Re:Notice where the study was done (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916213)

While I agree that the pharmaceutical businesses is a complete disaster area in terms of cures-per-dollar, you can't point at one publicly funded study and use it as evidence of that fact. It's spectacularly irrational.

Uh, yes you can. Not on its own, but in conjunction with a larger body of studies that all demonstrate this point. It's not a smoking gun, it's just part of a larger body of evidence. But go ahead and call it "spectacularly" irrational if you want, I guess.

Re:Notice where the study was done (2)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916275)

If you're pointing at "a larger body of studies" you're not pointing at one study any more, are you?

Re:Notice where the study was done (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916221)

"pharmaceutical businesses is a complete disaster area in terms of cures-per-dolla"
based on... what? it's been the most successful way to produce reasonably reliable drugs ever invented by man.

Re:Notice where the study was done (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916321)

The last ten years have not been a good time for the metaphorical pipeline. I'm not sure what's goign to replace it - startups, spinoffs, and publicly funded grand challenges, probably - but business isn't cutting it.

Re:Notice where the study was done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38917213)

Their methods are pathologically directed away from developing an understanding of the disease, with an understanding a competitor has an advantage when trying to make a rival un-patented drug, but without they have to repeat the same amount of effort as you put in to get an un-patented drug.
For this reason thy use brute force style methods, try compounds until they have an affect, with only limited knowledge based refinement, and develop an understanding later only if it is necessary to improve the drug.

This is getting harder and harder, hence they are getting less profitable and their products more expensive, even as the technology to create drugs based on an understanding of the disease becomes cheaper. For this reason I think medical research efforts should be funded to a much higher level by the government, which can then hire out manufactures and cut the middleman, or allow its citizens to buy as they need. If the efficiency is as low as it appears then even if government only funds 20%(pensioners, military vets etc. +government employees) or so of the drug purchases it will still be a net saving in taxpayer money.

Re:Notice where the study was done (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916201)

A) This is a discovery, not a development of a treatment; these are different things.
B) So what? there marketing spends money; that i no way makes drug research cheap.

Re:Notice where the study was done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916261)

If it was done by a Harvard biology grad student, then they were getting their tuition paid for as well as a stipend high enough to live off of.

Re:Notice where the study was done (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916359)

We shouldn't trust pharmaceuticals, that's for sure. Between the questionably ethical testing in 3rd world countries, the highway robbery, the lobbying to the medical industry to push fairly worthless products, and, oh yeah, their old-fashioned bribery (I mean lobbying) of elected officials to keep their racket going, they are evil. I got laid off from Pfizer two days after Christmas years ago, so I'm not on their side.

Still, I have to point out that basic biological research is a different beast from true medical research. Clinical trials in people are generally very expensive compared to basic research. They take much longer too. Mass producing drugs is not cheap to begin with, and the standards have to be very high for pharmecuticals. 70% purity of a drug you're going to inject into rats to test the effect for basic research like this is acceptable often, but that's hideously impure for something you're going to be putting into people.

The biggest disadvantage pharmecuticals have is liability. No one sues you if one of your lab rats or plates of cells die, this is not the case if someone taking your medicine dies. You need to hire an army of lawyers.

They do have huge costs, and the risks are much higher. Again, they should be scrutinized, but I don't think it's fair to imply that just because a university lab has a result on Alzheimers means that drugs should be cheap.

Re:Notice where the study was done (2)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916593)

They spend more on advertising then [sic] R&D.

I hate this statement as a statement against the pharmaceutical industry.

Marketing 101 is all about Return on Investment. Marketing is an investment from which you expect a return greater than the investment. Very few large companies spend more on marketing than they get back out of it. This is just as true for pharmaceuticals as it is any other industry. That is the POINT of marketing expenditure. Maybe some companies have marketing departments which suck at their job. But that's not a problem with marketing in general, it's a problem with those particular companies.

So all that this statement says about anything is that our society pays too much attention to advertisements. A company that sends all their money into R&D at the expense of marketing will probably produce some pretty useful drugs that no doctors or patients ever hear about and so aren't used, so they don't sell as much, so they don't have as much money to invest into R&D.

Re:Notice where the study was done (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916953)

No, the problem is that the drug companies have NOT been producing 'useful' drugs. They have mostly (of course, there are a few exceptions) been producing 'me too' drugs. Yet another acid blocker for your tummy ache, yet another ACE inhibitor for your blood pressure, yet another minimally modified anti depressant for everything else.

So when you don't have biology to tout, you bang on the advertising table. Put up pretty graphs about how much better your drug is than the existing drug and hope nobody notices that the scale is set to show a miniscule, clinically irrelevant difference. Put up shiny TV advertisements to a general public that will go for any drug / supplement / vitamin / device / religion that will make your life (or sexual experience) better / stronger / faster / closer to nirvana.

They're desperate. I'm sure they'd love to have a couple of 'blockbuster' drugs in the pipe, but it turns out to be damned hard to do.

Re:Notice where the study was done (1)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917053)

Not that I'm a big fan of the way the Pharmaceutical Industry works these days, but its a lot less black and white than you suggest. Drug companies pay fellowships for students going to grad schools, sponsor labs and give grants to Chemical Engineering departments who publish work like this, and do their best to ensure a continued flow of talent and research. There is Federal grant money in there as well. Once the research is done, Chemical Engineers at the drug companies work on how to reproduce and mass produce compounds that are likely to have a positive effect based on this type of research. On top of the actual cost of research to bring these medicines to market there are administrative costs, facility overhead and regulatory overhead.

Many Pharmaceutical companies do come out with near clones of previous medicines and then get patents on them, and then market the crud out of those new medicines to get people to insist on them. The (sarcasm intended) glorious health insurance companies (end sarcasm) try to ensure that big Pharma doesn't always get away with it by putting medicines in tiers and insisting we lowly consumers actually step through the generics before filling prescriptions for these pseudo-innovations. The single best thing you can do, if you don't like how big Pharma gouges consumers for prescriptions, is to buy generic.

Re:Notice where the study was done (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917725)

+5 Insightful to such idiocy! Slashdotters love a good platitude, I guess.

Finally, some good news... (3)

NIN1385 (760712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915821)

I was getting very depressed with all the bad news about the government and the ignorant shit they are doing. This is some refreshing news to end the week.

Hopefully I will see a cure for this disease in my lifetime.

Known to be prion related (2)

jfessler (53843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915851)

I haven't RTFA but "The studies indicate it's not a virus"??? Didn't we already know that?

Re:Known to be prion related (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916061)

There are earlier studies that show that tau propagates in a prion-like manner. I.e. the tau (bad protein) induces other protein to go bad as well, like with mad cow disease.

Re:Known to be prion related (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916257)

My thoughts too. Since Margaret Mead had shown that CJ could be transmitted by eating someone's brain in New Guinea in the 1950's.

Re:Known to be prion related (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917829)

We've known about tau protein's involvement in Alzheimers for decades. Specifically, we've known that the protein forms tangles which crush brain cells. That part is beyond old news. What seems to happen is that the tau protein "unzips" from its proper location, resulting in brain cells registering that there is insufficient tau protein in locations where it should be, in turn resulting in a loop that will kill everything in the area.

What is NOT known is why it unzips. My father's work in the late 80s, early 90s, showed that aluminum toxicity can cause the unzipping process. Later studies have shown that this is not the only pathway, but that there is usually something encased in the tau protein.

This has led to me speculating that this may have once been a feature, not a bug, that in early life this might have been an environmental detox mechanism (bind toxic chemicals in the area up in protein which is then ejected). This is based on the fact that the brain is unique amongst cells utilizing tau protein in that it has nowhere to eject bound-up toxins and that you don't see these kinds of tangles forming in other contexts where tau protein exists. It would also explain why Alzheimer's looks like it could be virally caused as it would end up with the same look and feel at the neurological level. On the one hand, I've read the papers, I've been involved in the research, I understand the science extremely well. On the other hand, neuroscience is a jealous discipline - even biochemists have a very tough time getting a hearing and I've far less standing than that in the biological sciences - and thus I do not expect this speculation to get looked at. (And, no, this speculation isn't Wikipedia-based. The original thoughts were written up when Gopher was the protocol of choice and really is based on hard, raw data collected in the field. I was, after all, involved in collecting it.) Nonetheless, this finding convinces me that I will prove to have been far closer to the actual mechanism than most of the recognized theories to date. (Yes I'm an old, arrogant, snobbish fart. Now fetch me a lawn so you can gerroff it!)

Now the meaning... (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915857)

...of the expression, "I may have Alzheimer's, but at least I don't have Alzheimer's," will change...

In America you can be cured of most diseases (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915863)

Provided of course, only if you can afford it.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915937)

Yeah, tell that to Steve Jobs.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916045)

That was his own fault for being a complete retard and trusting homeopathy.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916249)

Naturopathy, not homeopathy... both of which are crap. Of course, the stage it was detected it's unlikely that actual treatments would have changed anything.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38917927)

Doesn't mean all his money would have helped. Yes, the surgery might have saved him... for now.

The point is, there are some conditions (called "incurable") that oddly no amount of money will cure.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (4, Insightful)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916219)

That was his own fault. He decided to try homeopathic voodoo instead of sound, scientifically-validated methods to treat his cancer initially. That resulted in an early diagnosis (with high probablity of complete remission) turning into a late treatment (with far less favorable odds). The key with most agressive cancers is early diagnosis AND early treatment.

Cases like this are where homeopathy changes from being mostly harmless, and therefore not worthy of much attention, and become outright dangerous.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916451)

That was his own fault. He decided to try homeopathic voodoo instead of sound, scientifically-validated methods to treat his cancer initially. That resulted in an early diagnosis (with high probablity of complete remission) turning into a late treatment (with far less favorable odds). The key with most agressive cancers is early diagnosis AND early treatment. Cases like this are where homeopathy changes from being mostly harmless, and therefore not worthy of much attention, and become outright dangerous.

Well, except that he had Pancreatic cancer so even early treatments don't generally fare too well, long-term...

But he'd probably still be around for another year or two, had he been properly treated, instead of currently being worm food...

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (1)

wootcat (1151911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917665)

Except that he had the rare form of Pancreatic cancer which, from my understanding was highly treatable and had a high survival rate - given that you treated it early.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916529)

It wasn't homeopathy in Jobs' case, it was some sort of special dietary regimen.

I've heard the argument that Jobs was unlucky enough to have a form of the cancer that probably would've have been much better with earlier treatment; that probably doesn't apply to most.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917065)

Jobs was a well educated, intelligent man sounded by well educated, intelligent people with a vested financial interest in keeping him alive. I seriously doubt he based his entire treatment off Joe Bob's Snake Oil Voodoo and Cancer Treatment Center of the Internet and Wishful Thinking. Rather, I'm sure he looked at his options and made a personal decision based on his personal wishes and situation. His treatment was his own personal choice. The decision was not pushed on him nor was he ill-informed. I'm sure that many people close to him probably even advised him against it. There is no guarantee that traditional treatment would have saved him and probably would have lowered his quality of life. Conventional cancer treatments come with a price and individuals should be able to chose if it is worth paying.

Re:In America you can be cured of most diseases (2)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916523)

Well, he wasn't cured, but he lasted a remarkably long time, and managed to get a liver transplant that was very questionable given that he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Usually they don't give organ transplants to people with such a bad prognosis. Getting the liver may have extended his life by about 2 years. It very well could have extended a different patient's life by twenty. He managed to get the liver by spending a lot of money to fly around and visit a lot of different doctors and get on a lot of different waiting lists. Whether he did anything even more questionable than just gaming the system is unknown.

Correlation to human greed (0, Troll)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915879)

I'd love to see if there's a relation to the amount of Alzheimer's vs the amount of animal byproducts we feed to food animals.
We already know brain wasting in the UK was tied to feeding cattle infected animal remains rendered into feed.

Re:Correlation to human greed (2)

u38cg (607297) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916003)

Actually, we don't. For all the scaremongering at the time, there is no real evidence tying BSE transmission through animal derived feedstuffs to vCJD.

Re:Correlation to human greed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916053)

As far as I recall, it's already quite well established that a massive percentage of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's actually have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Re:Correlation to human greed (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916155)

That seems a little unlikely given how distinct they are in progression and histology.

Re:Correlation to human greed (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917477)

Given that Alzheimer's was diagnosed over a hundred years ago I'd doubt that anything that we've been doing recently would actually be the source of the problem. Alzheimer's has probably been around for a very long time just was identified as old people going senile. It could easily be a Prion as you're implying with comparing it to Mad Cow disease, and it could be that something we are doing is spreading it. However, it could easily be just a genetic defect that's causing the protein to be folded incorrectly, and wasn't considered an issue until the human lifespan hit a point that the defect kicks in. A genetic defect is at least fixable. I don't know of any real treatments for Prions other then things that sound "promising", but have yet to prove themselves.

Where is the peer review? (1, Interesting)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915883)

I'm always suspicious of these 'breakthroughs' when they are introduced via mass media. Somebody thought up a possible cause always gets interpreted to mean that there must be a cure on the way and that's a sexy story to sell the papers, so... Where are the links to peer-reviewed scientific journals? This is Slashdot, a link to the NY Times isn't much more than a start.

Folding@Home (5, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915887)

I talked with the researchers involved with Folding@Home, and they told me that indeed, processing power is at least partly used to research Tau protein misfolding.

So, if you want to do something good for your future (since there is a good chance you'll be hit by Alzheimer's if you live long enough), I suggest contributing your CPU and graphics cards cycles to Folding@Home.

Re:Folding@Home (1)

virgnarus (1949790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916325)

I talked with the researchers involved with Folding@Home, and they told me that indeed, processing power is at least partly used to research Tau protein misfolding.

So, if you want to do something good for your future (since there is a good chance you'll be hit by Alzheimer's if you live long enough), I suggest contributing your CPU and graphics cards cycles to Folding@Home.

Can I instead use my graphics cards to mine bitcoins to fund said project?

Columbia's Taub Institute (1)

John Bokma (834313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915925)

So he beat House after all? Anyway, very good news. I saw my grandmother slowly fall to pieces and "it's an awful way to go" doesn't even come close to describe it.

PLoS One Link (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916013)

Below is a link for the PLoS One article...

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0031302;jsessionid=4EA9D1FCBCCF4E5C7B1B9A5FE3266C3E

Nice work (4, Interesting)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916071)

Nice that they've isolated it down to a single protein causing the problem. From what I gathered from the article the protein is supposed to provide the insulation between neural networks as you get older. Shouldn't be long then before they have it isolated down to the gene sequence that causes the protein to go rogue in the first place. Assuming that it's genetic and not some other kind of Prion.

Car Analogy From TFA (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916101)

"Looking at the brains of people who have died of the disease, Dr. Duff said, is like looking at a wrecked car and trying to figure out the accident’s cause. Faulty brakes? Broken struts?

I think this is a good analogy.

Farma: Profit == Exciting News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916131)

It's exciting for them because it opens a whole new opportunity for PROFITTING from new drugs that 'block spread of Tau'. The industry, meanwhile, makes 2 dollars for treating side effects of 1 dollar drugs.

Re:Farma: Profit == Exciting News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916597)

Unless they find that the optimal "drug" for combatting the bad Tau proteins is an industrial compound that's cheaply manufactured by the ton then you won't here about it.

Ceasar IS home.......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916617)

they testing this on chimps?

NB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38917037)

I finished a biochem degree in 2003, and the fact/theory that misfolded tau causes Alzheimer's has been know about since at least 2002. Mutations in tau are associated with misfolding and when people talk about "plaques" of misfolded protein in Alzheimer's they're talking about tau. These guys think they've worked something out about the development of the disease - that it seems to spread from a single start point, and thus misfolding is a rare event and misfolded protein seems to spread to other cells from where it starts, like an infection. They're not claiming to have discovered tau as the cause. That was already known.

Transfusion? (1)

JigJag (2046772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38917647)

I saw a documentary yesterday about all types of surgeries done without transfusion (open-heart, liver cancel excision, full-knee prosthetic). Even trauma situation was discussed and how it costs less and it's often safer and healthier to do things bloodlessly.
Now, I wonder if this tau protein is transmissible via transfusion and if so whether it passes the blood-brain barrier. If so, it is probably another reason to seek alternatives [wikipedia.org] .

JigJag

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