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Skin Cancer Drug Reverses Alzheimer's Symptoms In Mice

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the with-very-few-exceptions-a-mouse-is-not-a-human-being dept.

Medicine 94

An anonymous reader writes "A skin cancer drug may rapidly reverse pathological, cognitive and memory deterioration associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to new research published on Thursday. Bexarotene, a drug that is currently used to combat T cell lymphoma, appeared to reverse plaque buildup and improve memory in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease by reducing levels of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that cause mental deficits in Alzheimer's disease."

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94 comments

I was going to say something (5, Funny)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999751)

but I forgot what we were talking about

Re:I was going to say something (0)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999833)

No kidding, it looks like a Bayesian Network experiment generated the title. I had to read it 3 times.

Re:I was going to say something (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001413)

Good! You'll probably won't remember either that your likelihood of skin cancer is lower.

Toxilogical Info (5, Informative)

Draconi (38078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38999779)

RTECS No: not available
Acute toxicity: oral toxicity (LD50): >1500 mg/kg (rat); >720 mg/kg (dog)
Dermal NOEL: 0.01% (rat)
Primary irritant effect:
On the skin: not known; may be an irritant; exposure may exacerbate the deleterious effects of sunlight
On the eye: not known; may be an irritant
Ingestion: may cause effects similar to hypervitaminosis A including headache, nausea, vomiting, lip inflammation, mucous membrane dryness, joint pain, scaly skin, and hyperlipidemia

---

Yeah. I'd still take it.

Re:Toxilogical Info (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000019)

Yeah. I'd still take it.

Me too, if it keeps me from suffering the inevitable loss of cognizance (Alzheimer's runs strong in my family).

The thought of no longer having control over my own thought processes scares the living bejesus out of me.

Re:Toxilogical Info (5, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000415)

Hey, if you have a lot of wanderers in your family, check out Project Lifesaver. [projectlifesaver.org]

They have a wrist-mounted transmitter that lets police and caregivers (who have the receivers) find wandering patients quickly and safely. 100% success rate.

I wrote the code for the transmitters; it was done so well that they didn't need me anymore. (They got Microchip to program them by the reel.)

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000803)

Hey, if you have a lot of wanderers in your family, check out Project Lifesaver. [projectlifesaver.org]

They have a wrist-mounted transmitter that lets police and caregivers (who have the receivers) find wandering patients quickly and safely. 100% success rate.

I definitely will, thanks a lot.

I wrote the code for the transmitters; it was done so well that they didn't need me anymore. (They got Microchip to program them by the reel.)

Same thing happened to me at one of my old sysadmin jobs; they hired me because the last guy couldn't distinguish telephony (or anything else, for that matter) from his own ass, but as soon as I had everything running ship-shape, they sent me down the road.

Lesson learned, for sure.

Re:Toxilogical Info (5, Interesting)

silverspell (1556765) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000857)

Lesson learned, for sure.

Out of curiosity, what was the lesson?

(I'm not being a wiseass BTW. Just wondering how that experience has changed your behavior since then -- mainly, how you've protected yourself from having the same thing happen again, while still doing first-rate work in an efficient manner.)

Re:Toxilogical Info (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000975)

The lesson is, when you autmate and make things more effeicent, never tell anyone.

Years ago I went to work some place, on a team of 12 support people. Because they way there system works, it took 15 minutes after the code to get all the data into their varies systems.

I wrote a script that did it in 25 seconds.
So, the didn't need as many people, so the let me go.

I'm standing there saying "Why are you letting go the guy who improves that's? Let one of those people go who sit there and do as little as possible? They mumble some nonsense.

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39013097)

I have no idea how they are now, but back in the '90s when I worked for Bell Labs, they had a policy where if you improved efficiency to the point where you eliminated your job, you were guaranteed a new one.

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001215)

Lesson learned, for sure.

Out of curiosity, what was the lesson?

(I'm not being a wiseass BTW. Just wondering how that experience has changed your behavior since then -- mainly, how you've protected yourself from having the same thing happen again, while still doing first-rate work in an efficient manner.)

The lesson is that one should not let ones excellence and work ethic overshadow ones need for income.

Put more simply, never do such a great job that you curb your own usefulness.

That, or just build time-bombs into every script you write, that way there's always something that needs "fixing." Anyone who claims that's an inappropriate attitude to have towards a job is either A) in management (and thus, by association, a moron), or B) not good enough at what they do.

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39021733)

The lesson is that one should not let ones excellence and work ethic overshadow ones need for income.

I've lost my job several times. There was that one, where I coded myself out of the job. At a co-op job in school, we ran out of work so I ended up leaving that one early too. (Still got credit.) Before school, I was hired as a temp to sort out some documents. I got it cased in two weeks after being warned that I was "working myself out of a job". I also had a job in sales to get through school. I sold lots more than anyone else and there was a noticeable bump in turnover when I was working. Nevertheless, the assistant manager thought I was stealing "her commissions" and started writing me up for even the slightest infractions. I ended up losing that job too.

More recently, I was hired to add a new protocol to an existing system. My project manager spent his time telling people that I wasn't working hard. (He's actually the "Email me the code" guy from TDWTF) His contract was renewed, mine was not. I did get the proof-of-concept part done.

At my current job, I suggested a change that would save us hundreds of hours of overtime at the expense of 20-30 hours of front-end work. I spent hours working on it, talking to just about everyone involved. When the people working were ignoring the change because "we didn't understand it so we didn't implement it" I lost concentration, told them it was bullshit, and then I got reprimanded for swearing. It's a swearing-friendly environment. There are a few more instances, but I'll just say I've been put on three different teams since January. Now I'm on the "high-burnout" one, tight deadlines, demanding results, etc.

When I was younger I'd work my ass off to make these changes stick, making enemies along the way. Now that I'm older and have a wife and kids and a mortgage, well, I can't make us all homeless and hungry to satisfy my pride.

Now I work just hard enough to not get fired. It's actually pretty sweet, and I can see why Gen-Y and younger works like this. Wearing a job is like wearing a pair of pants. When you're done you take em off. I don't have to take my work personally, I get a full lunch hour (I go to the gym) and it still all gets done on time. I just look like I'm fucking slacking all the time. Nobody goes out of their way to get me fired. And joke's on them, I don't get stressed out about my job so I can't get burned out. Sure, I could be more productive but that would just get me fired.

As I heard from one of my friends in another office, "this job thrills me to the core... every two weeks."

Re:Toxilogical Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39002867)

This:

http://despair.com/consulting.html

Re:Toxilogical Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004049)

They couldn't think of anything else in their company for you to improve?

FWIW, I'm don't want to write crap just so that I have a job fixing it later. There's plenty of crap software in the world already, and I seem to end up in jobs fixing other people's crap code...

So far nobody from a previous company has complained about my stuff (they say it's still working fine), every now and then they ask to see if I'm interested in fixing their old crap - which I was forced to take over when the original developer left. I did fix some stuff, but there was plenty of dailywtf[1] material there, so it was hard to fix properly. A rewrite would have been better but take too long unless they paid for two teams: one to fix and one to rewrite. So not interested in touching that crap any more.

[1] One part had hundreds of IF THEN statements with hard coded values for each of the customers sites, so if there was a new site or stuff changed, you had to change the code!

Re:Toxilogical Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003157)

Computers do a bit of bad sometimes; thanks for doing something that is an unqualified good.

I hope I don't ever need your product, but if I or a loved one does, I'll be glad you made it. You have my gratitude.

Re:Toxilogical Info (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001291)

The thought of no longer having control over my own thought processes scares the living bejesus out of me.

Let me tell ya, marriage is not for you then

Re:Toxilogical Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000037)

So would I, if I could just remember where I put my pants.

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000041)

RTECS No: not available
Acute toxicity: oral toxicity (LD50): >1500 mg/kg (rat); >720 mg/kg (dog)
Dermal NOEL: 0.01% (rat)
Primary irritant effect:
On the skin: not known; may be an irritant; exposure may exacerbate the deleterious effects of sunlight
On the eye: not known; may be an irritant
Ingestion: may cause effects similar to hypervitaminosis A including headache, nausea, vomiting, lip inflammation, mucous membrane dryness, joint pain, scaly skin, and hyperlipidemia

---

Yeah. I'd still take it.

Ask that of an Alzheimer's patient. From what I've seen, if god forbid I have it, that drug - assuming it does what it promise to do - doesn't look so bad.

And if it would make me less of a burden on my family, it would make that drug look even better.

And I'm sure those effects could be managed. After all, there has to be some sort of procesure if they're using it now for cancer patients.

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000883)

My mom was diagnosed a year ago.

I just emailed the article to her doctor.

As with anything in dose facit venenum

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 2 years ago | (#39002065)

As it's already approved for human use, off label is certainly a possibility, however another article I read said the mice received a 'mega-dose', so the effective amount might be too much for people. One good thing is that it's already has a decade of use and is available as a generic, but I suspect that the 'spot market' will get really hot quickly.

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39007541)

Generally the easiest way to control those side effects if by decreasing the doseage. I see no reason to believe that the optimal dose for Alzheimers would be the same as for cancer. I'd give reasonable odds that the dosage would be substantially lower. And from the report on the mice it might not be a medicine that's continually needed. If it clears away the plaques, then you might not need to continue to take it. Or might be able to get by with a SUBSTANTAILLY reduced dosage.

The nice thing is that it's a drug that's already approved for use in humans. So the testing required to get it approved for the new use would be quite a bit less. And doctors are already allowed to prescribe for "off label usage" (but the insurance company might not pay).

Re:Toxilogical Info (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000221)

Considering that it's a cancer drug, I say: meh, it's not bad at all. Chemo usually makes you toxic enough that others are not allowed to touch you for crying out loud, you have to wear warning tags! You're taking chemo at levels that produce acute toxicity: that's normal dosage, duh. This drug is a walk in the park, and given how bad Alzheimer's is, I'd take it without blinking an eye if it worked on humans and I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Re:Toxilogical Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000263)

Oh hell yes.

Re:Toxilogical Info (4, Interesting)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000281)

Ingestion: may cause effects similar to hypervitaminosis A

Because it binds to retinoid receptors. The news summaries circulating are a little mis-leading. It's not exactly a "skin cancer" per say, but rather skin manifestations of certain kinds of leukemia. The drug treats certain types of leukemia by forcing the cells to complete differentiation.

Re:Toxilogical Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39001331)

You'd have to remember to take it!

Re:Toxilogical Info (1)

munozdj (1787326) | more than 2 years ago | (#39026307)

So the effects would be similar to taking isotretioin? I had a Roaccutane therapy for two years and, though it was unconfortable, it was manageable. IMHO, the benefits outweigh by far the risks, if it's cancer or Alzheimer's.

MICE. MICE ARE NICE TOO. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38999941)

Yay! We may still see a lot of new Sir Terry Pratchett's books in the future! His pal, who speaks in caps, can wait for him a little longer, that's for sure.

Repurposing drugs (3, Interesting)

kodiaktau (2351664) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000023)

This is one of those instances where I wonder if the drug repurposing is good or bad. The side effects [nih.gov] seem to be typical, but as the article points out:

Experts said that the results were promising, but noted that in the past successful drugs in mice often failed to work in people.

So what I am trying to figure out is this an instance where Pfizer or someone else is backing the study. It looks like Easi [cleveland.com] isn't backing this but is someone else backing the work trying to keep a drug repurposed.

As I think about this I also wonder what happens to the plaque that is removed...so is it reabsorbed into the body?

Regardless, I think this is definately something useful and helpful if the human studies pan out.

Re:Repurposing drugs (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000085)

I was also interested in what happens to the plaque. also ive read that there is evidence that the evolutionary purpose of the plaques may be to bind to toxins such as heavy metals (or aluminium). if the tangles of plaque can be broken up what happens to the toxins they bind? if the bodies defense mechanism in this case is more harmful than the original problem perhaps this can be beneficial if used with digression.

Re:Repurposing drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000257)

Binding things may or may not be the 'propose' for the clipped form of amyloid, but are not relevant in this discussion. Pure amyloid clumps together when over expressed, no extraneous heavy metals are needed.

Re:Repurposing drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000677)

I believe you mean discretion, but I digress.

Re:Repurposing drugs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000105)

When deciding whether to use any medical treatment it's important to evaluate the risk of treatment versus the risk of living with the disease. Given that the disease is Alzheimer's and the risk is losing your mind I'd say most people would be willing to take a fairly risky treatment to avoid that.

Re:Repurposing drugs (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000255)

You would hope that the FDA could fast track human trials, and get really sick volunteers who waive the right to sue. We need human guinea pigs to be test subjects in order to find cures and advance medicine.

I know I would do this if I had a choice between experimental drug and slow death by brain dissolving.

Re:Repurposing drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39026263)

A patient who is sick enough to be allowed to take the drug is unfortunately not able to make any decisions at all. I once spent 5 weeks as a room mate with an old man in a facility in Florida. For me it was storage so I could heal a punctured lung before getting flown back home. For him, it was storage until he passed away. He no longer recognized his daughter, who visited fairly frequently Alzheimers at this stage is probably not so bad, because your consciousness is extremely reduced. The bad part is when you know your mind is going, but you can't do anything about it.

Re:Repurposing drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000195)

"Landreth said modest resources funded this self-described âoefar-fetched idea.â Crucial support came from the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Foundation, the Thome Foundation and the National Institutes of Health."

http://thedaily.case.edu/news/?p=5430 [case.edu]

That's for the basic research. The clinical trials study will likely have other sources. Those cost $$$$.

Re:Repurposing drugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000303)

I'm all for repurposing.

What bugs the fuck out of me is extending the patent by leaving impurities in the first round, then patenting the purer version the second time around, then purifying it further and so on.

Re:Repurposing drugs (1)

ralphdaugherty (225648) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000311)

Are you kidding me? This is the equivalent of a miracle if the protein works in humans as it does in mice, the holy grail of Alzeimer's research. One thing to be able to stop the spread of it, totally unexpected to be able to reverse the damage.

This is great thinking and research to associate this cancer drug with Alzeimer's and find this result. My hat's off to them.

Re:Repurposing drugs (2)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000617)

This is one of those instances where I wonder if the drug repurposing is good or bad.

Yeah, the last time someone tried to repurpose a drug for Alzheimer's intelligent apes took over the planet...

Re:Repurposing drugs (1)

hraefn (627340) | more than 2 years ago | (#39002551)

The patents appear to begin expiring this year... I am suspicious. The current drug is very likely a big money-maker, and generic equivalents are usually dramatically cheaper/lower-margin.

Appears someone has already applied for first-to-file exclusivity. [banpharm.com]

Rise of the Planet of the Mice (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000367)

What will we do with super-intelligent mice?

Re:Rise of the Planet of the Mice (4, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000641)

No problem, they'll just go off and live with the rats of NIMH.

Check out the CNN Article on this (4, Interesting)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000427)

Lots of outlets are publishing this, one of the more interesting ones was CNN's: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/09/health/us-cancer-drug-alzheimers/index.html?hpt=he_c2 [cnn.com]

Check out the quote: "We've fixed Alzheimer's in mice lots of times, so we need to move forward expeditiously but cautiously."

So, would it be safe to say that Alzheimer's in mice is different from that in humans (on some level) so you might want to wait a bit before overdosing on Skin Cancer meds?

myke

Re:Check out the CNN Article on this (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000545)

Sometimes it's not so much that the drugs that alleviate AD in mice don't do that in humans also, but that they have nasty side effects in humans that aren't tolerable.

IIRC, there was a process not too long ago that reversed dementia in mice, and also in field trials in humans, but led to significant brain hemorrhaging as well during the trials, so it was stopped immediately and eventually shelved.

Hopefully this drug won't have the same side effect problems, but I think it's part of the difficulty in moving from rodent models to humans.

Re:Check out the CNN Article on this (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39007645)

This drug is currently used as a cancer treatment. So I don't think you need to worry about "brain hemmoraging", etc. But mice do have a slightly different hormonal system, so it's not guaranteed that something that works in mice will work in people. (E.g., it might be degraded too soon to do the job. Or maybe it can't get throught the blood/brain barrier.) But there's a reasonable chance.

Re:Check out the CNN Article on this (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000817)

Lots of outlets are publishing this, one of the more interesting ones was CNN's: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/09/health/us-cancer-drug-alzheimers/index.html?hpt=he_c2 [cnn.com]

Check out the quote: "We've fixed Alzheimer's in mice lots of times, so we need to move forward expeditiously but cautiously."

So, would it be safe to say that Alzheimer's in mice is different from that in humans (on some level) so you might want to wait a bit before overdosing on Skin Cancer meds?

myke

Once they've done the basic "this probably isn't going to kill you in the next 5 years and stands a good chance of treating (curing?) your alzheimers disease" testing, I bet you'll get a long queue of people lining up to try it. I know I would. The drug would have to have some pretty major failings to give a worse 5 year outlook than alzheimers disease itself.

Re:Check out the CNN Article on this (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001369)

After watching my grandmother die of it I know I'd opt for the drug, even with dangerous side effects.
The other option is a cannister of nitrogen and a room sealed with duct tape.

I'm sure as hell not letting the disease take me.

Re:Check out the CNN Article on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003139)

The other option is a cannister of nitrogen and a room sealed with duct tape.

Cannisters of nitrogen aren't that easy to come by, of course.. try Charcoal [wikipedia.org] , easily available as disposable BBQs

Re:Check out the CNN Article on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003277)

Death by nitrogen is a lot more pleasant than death by carbon monoxide.

There was this documentary (sorry, can't provide a reference; it's been a year or two) where they tested the stuff with filling a box with apples under a nitrogen blanket and set a pig loose to eat them. It fainted, woke and and went right back to eating them.

In another segment the narrator tried it under controlled circumstances and was feeling just fine. Afterwards he was informed he was seconds away from dying before the assistant came and ripped the mask off him.

So yeah, nitrogen.

Re:Check out the CNN Article on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003609)

Any welding shop will sell you LN2.

painful advances (5, Interesting)

ffflala (793437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000449)

My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's three years ago. It is simply brutal to see what this disease does to the people you love. But given the inevitable outcome of Alzheimer's, I'll grasp at any straw I can find if it presents some remote hope of a different outcome. This kind of perspective can't help but make one feel as if you're vulnerable to hucksters. There have been similar claims about more dubious Alzheimer's treatments, such as coconut oil, but when it comes down to it my approach is "Will it kill him or hurt him? If not, then let's try it, what have we got to lose."

The human testing and approval process for treating Alzheimer's with bexarotene will simply take too long to be of any benefit to him. I want to get a physician to approve this medication for the off-label use for my father, so we can try it on him.

I hope it is not reckless nor irresponsible to see if I can use my father as a sort of non-controlled subject for this study. But it seems that I have the choice between (1) risking a negative, possibly fatal or crippling, reaction for a remote chance at reversing a fatal, painful disease, or (2) waiting responsibly for the gears of formal human medical approval turn, test, find that this works, and approve prescribing it for patients. What kind of a choice is that?

Re:painful advances (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39000575)

This is already approved for use in humans. You can find a doctor who will prescribe it off-label. I'd do it in a heartbeat, as none of the side effects even register on the scale of horror that is Alzheimer's.

Re:painful advances (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#39000979)

There have been similar claims about more dubious Alzheimer's treatments, such as coconut oil, but when it comes down to it my approach is "Will it kill him or hurt him? If not, then let's try it, what have we got to lose."

You do need to be a little cautious though. $99.95 for 1-week treatment of snake^H^H^H^H^Hcoconut oil might not send you broke, but many people have spent tens of thousands of dollars on cancer and HIV treatments that were bogus.

There's also the risk that someone might use snakeoil treatment instead of mainstream treatment, although given that there really isn't any effective mainstream treatment for alzheimers yet that's not so much of a risk.

Re:painful advances (1)

bdenton42 (1313735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001063)

The problem is at what dosage? The CNN article described it as a "mega-dose", so who knows if the normal human dosage (300mg/day) for skin cancer treatment is enough. The drug is quite expensive; the Canada mail order sites are quoting about $20 per 75mg pill so that would be $80 per day just for the normal dose.

Re:painful advances (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39007653)

The article also said that it worked extremely rapidly. In this case I'd play safe and use half the recommended dosage for cancer. This would probably act more slowly, but it would minimize the side effects, and it's not like beta-amyloid plaques are going to evolve resistance.

Since the plaques build up very slowly, clearing them away slowly is probably safer than trying to remove them all quickly.

Re:painful advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39001117)

Just fyi. This drug is NOT approved for off-label use. So your physician cannot prescribe it to your dad, unfortunately. I would support your dad using it. I suggest you go to another country quickly, and get it. May be a third world country if necessary. But get it and try it if you feel you should. Instead of dillydallying and letting him slowly degenerate.

Re:painful advances (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001367)

By the age when people are typically diagnosed with Alzheimer's, skin cancer is very common. Is anyone likely to question a purely coincidental diagnosis of skin cancer in a 70-year-old and its subsequent treatment?

Re:painful advances (1)

darrylo (97569) | more than 2 years ago | (#39002659)

By the age when people are typically diagnosed with Alzheimer's, skin cancer is very common. Is anyone likely to question a purely coincidental diagnosis of skin cancer in a 70-year-old and its subsequent treatment?

My guess is that that the "effective" dose is much higher than the normal dosage for cancer treatment, and quite possibly toxic. If "normal" doses worked as well as the mice trials, we'd likely have seen anecdotal evidence by now from the people being treated for skin cancer.

Re:painful advances (2)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001401)

FYI, no drugs are 'approved' for off-label use. That's what off-label means - not approved for that use...

Yes, his dad's physician can prescribe it if he thinks it's worth trying and is willing to take the risk in case things go bad.

Re:painful advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003311)

It has been tested and approved for human use, for a specific purpose (in this case, cancer chemo.)

Any other use is off-label.

Unlike drugs that haven't been approved by the FDA at all, this is commercially available and can be prescribed by any doctor willing to do so.

I never implied that it was "approved for off-label use" because that's not what off-label means.

Re:painful advances (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001479)

That's one thing I don't understand about the over-cautious multi-year FDA testing process. Sure it's fine to be cautious given lesser conditions with drugs that are much stronger and unknown.

But for pete's sake, not only is it KNOWN what this drug does, but like you say, the condition is so horrendous that it's insane to do anything EXCEPT make it freely available right away for this condition. That would apply even if the drug's effects on people were unknown. It's completely ridiculous.

Anyway, my best wishes to you and your dad (and the numerous other sufferers out there), and I hope he recovers after this (potentially) miraculous new treatment. I'm sure you would anyway, but try and research a few things first, and even contact the researchers to see what they might recommend could be a possible treatment for your dad.

Re:painful advances (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001945)

The testing process to approve a drug for a new use is easier than to approve a drug initially. There are 2 main aspects to the testing process: first determining the damage the drug does (Phase 1 and 2 trials), second determining that the drug works and how effectively it does so (phases 2 and 3). For repurposing a drug you still need to run the phase 2 and 3 trials. The phase 3 trials are the most expensive of the 3. This is to prevent fraud.

Re:painful advances (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39001559)

This is not a troll, I'm trying to help. I recommend you read the Directives for Human Experimentation [nih.gov] and discuss them with your father's doctor before you actually begin an experimental treatment. If you can convince yourself you're in compliance with these directives (called the Nuremburg Code, how's that for a Godwin) then you'll feel better having thought them through; and if you can't convince yourself you're in compliance, then you may avoid a mistake.

Re:painful advances (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39001759)

This is purely media and not real life, but a central plot line in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1318514/) was testing cutting edge Alzheimer's medication without approval, and the consequences (obviously, perhaps overstated, but who knows).

I had a dear family member recently pass who had Alzheimer's and dementia. I'm sorry to hear about your father, and his pain, and you and your families' pain. I understand the frustration of hearing about possible solutions and not seeing them real or come about fast enough.

All I can suggest is, there are definitely risks. Do what you feel your heart tells you is right out of compassion and love, and maybe is what your father would have wanted (or his will/legal documents, if he had them, said). Most of all, remind your dad every day that you love him, and that you will still love him forever, no matter what may come.

Tracking down the exact people who are doing the research is always worthwhile, even if it is hard.

Lastly, I recall an article from Wired - http://www.wired.com/medtech/genetics/magazine/17-02/ff_diygenetics?currentPage=all [wired.com] - I don't know if it helps you at all.

Good luck, ffflala.

Re:painful advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39002155)

Given that its already approved for human use one would suppose that there would be a fast track to human testing. Basically all the adverse reactions are already known, aren't they? I sit with my mother watching TV and have to answer the same questions over and over and over, she's confused by adverts, can't follow a story, sport baffles her, etc etc. If I found a bottle of this stuff in the street I'd give it to her in a heartbeat. For once FDA and others, go mad, try it out, please.

Connecting the right people? (1)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001615)

Maybe somebody needs to connect the people who discovered this with the folks at the Taub Institute and Harvard as mentioned in this previous Slashdot article - "Alzheimer's Transmission Pathway Discovered" [slashdot.org] . My grandfather (RIP), one of the smartest people I knew and loved dearly, suffered at the hands of Alzheimer's/dementia. I am not a scientist with enough knowledge to make a difference here, but I sure wish I could do something other than donate $$ to the researchers to help us win this battle. I'm just hoping with fingers crossed that the right people are connecting - there have been a lot of interesting discoveries - and that if the solution is found, it is made accessible and available.

Tau protein (4, Interesting)

Frans Faase (648933) | more than 2 years ago | (#39001647)

Just a week ago, the Slashdot item Alzheimer's Transmission Pathway Discovered [slashdot.org] reported that Alzheimer was caused by the spread of the tau protein gone wrong. How is this to be interpretted in the view of the above new item?

Re:Tau protein (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003303)

Cause vs symptoms. The tau protein may be responsible for the beta-amyloid plaques, and the cancer drug makes the body dissolve said plaques.

To compare: a bunch of things can cause fever, but ibuprofen will reduce the body temperature in most cases.

Re:Tau protein (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003323)

I'm not a doctor (disclaiming that I'm talking out of the side of my ass, but hopefully this still makes some sense).

I see it as the difference between cause and effect. If someone with advanced Alzheimer's were given a drug that halted the spread of the tau protein (cause), they still would suffer from the effects of Alzheimer's (plaque buildup). This drug supposedly corrects on the effects of Alzheimer's (plaque buildup) and would have to be taken on a continual basis because it isn't dealing with the cause (tau protein). In a perfect world, there would be one drug that deals with both.

Re:Tau protein (1)

TBerben (1061176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004695)

Unfortunately, I don't have access to my lecture notes at this moment and I can't access any literature (my university VPN is down for maintenance), but from a course on the molecular defects underlying diseases I remember there was some interaction between amyloid beta and tau. I don't believe the precise nature of this interaction is known or whether amyloid beta defects cause tau tangles or vice versa (or none of the above). So both this article and the one you mentioned may be correct.

It's not fair..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39003629)

Why do the mice get all the best medical care first?

Probably contains keytones (1)

Theovon (109752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004543)

We already know that keytones have an ameliorating affect on Alzheimer's. This is because brain cells seem to have trouble absorbing gluclose, but they can get energy from keytones, which they can still absorb. So this skin cancer drug, may help brain cells absorb glucose, or it helps convert something to keytones, or it itself is made of keytones and is nourishing the brain.

Eat your coconut oil!

Re:Probably contains keytones (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006881)

You mean all I have to do is get my grandparents to spend more time punching digits on the phone?

Spelling snark aside, I'd love to see support for this claim (ketones improve Alzheimer's symptoms) from any source that isn't trying to sell us coconut oil.

Wait, what did the study actually show? (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004763)

> appeared to reverse plaque buildup and improve memory
> in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease by reducing
> levels of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that cause mental
> deficits in Alzheimer's disease

Wait, what did the study show? Did it show A) that Bexarotene improved memory in mice or B) that Bexarotene reduced levels of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of mice? These are most emphatically not the same thing, unless some extremely recent study that I'm not aware of has shown C) that beta-amyloid plaques cause the mental deficits associated with Alzheimer's -- which would be very surprising, because several prior drug candidates that have been shown to reduce the plaques in human brains have failed to do anything useful for memory. There's a very strong correlation between Alzheimer's symptoms and the existence of the plaques, but causation has not been shown and so far appears not to be the case. This has been written about many times -- a quick search for "beta amyloid" on e.g. pipeline.corante.com will find you a bundle of posts on the subject.

Re:Wait, what did the study actually show? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39009943)

RTFA!

Investigators said that after treatment, the mice made significant improvements in nest building, maze performance and remembering electrical shocks.

So, in other words, A.

So the remaining question is does it work the same way in humans. We don't know, but it would seem reasonable to fast track the trials since safety is established and we know the untreated outcome is universally tragic.

Re:Wait, what did the study actually show? (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 2 years ago | (#39018821)

> RTFA!

YMBNH.

> So the remaining question is does it work the same way in humans.

If the mice showed actual cognitive improvement, I'm sure someone is already thinking about a study involving humans. Whether they'll do that straight away or do another couple of animal studies first, I don't know (for a drug already approved in humans for other indications one would imagine the former, but you never know) but in any case I am certain they're already thinking about how the human study might go.

Go Case! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39007603)

I was a bit annoyed to see that Case Western Reserve University, the organization responsible for the research, was only mentioned once off-handedly in the middle of the article (and not at all in the /. post).

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