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Alzheimer's Treatment Mooted

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the important-progress dept.

Biotech 79

aminorex writes "Enbrel (etanercept) has been immediately, markedly, and consistently effective in all Alzheimer's patients, according to a report in Science Daily. The original research article is available online at the Journal of Neuroinflammation web site. "We can see cognitive and behavioral improvement in a patient with established dementia within minutes of therapeutic intervention" comments one Journal editor." "All Alzheimer's patients" may be over-optimistic, but according to the article, though the research it concerns has been heavily focused on a single patient, "many other patients with mild to severe Alzheimer's received the treatment and all have shown sustained and marked improvement."

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Bad Title (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976574)

Mooted... I do not think you know what that word means.

What ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976616)

Huh ? How do I refresh this thing ? Who am I again ? hehehe

Re:Bad Title (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976738)

Inconceivable!

actually, they do (5, Informative)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976866)

But it's an annoying fucking word, because its two meanings are actually opposite of one another:

1. To bring up as a subject for discussion or debate.

2. Of no practical importance; irrelevant.

Very obnoxious word that way.

Re:actually, they do (3, Funny)

Jhon (241832) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977622)

1. To bring up as a subject for discussion or debate.
2. Of no practical importance; irrelevant.

Seeing how effecient and successful the UN runs, I think perhaps you could read that as "To bring up as a subject for discussion or debate is of no practical importance and irrelevant".

Glad we cleared that up.

Re:actually, they do (3, Informative)

stonecypher (118140) | more than 6 years ago | (#21978588)

You're not entirely correct. You've taken one correct meaning and split it into two incorrect halves, then ratified the second half by confusing conjugations.

The verb "[to] moot [something]" is to raise an issue for the specific purpose of displaying it to be unimportant; this is the sense in which the article uses the word. Mooting something is an active and target-specific process whose intent is to weed out irrelevancies. If you have done either 1 or 2, but not the other, you have not mooted something. There is only one meaning, and it is not internally inconsistant at all.

Meaning number two is also the way the past tense adjective is spelled/pronounced. However, it is common in English to have an action and its result adjective be the same, despite that the result adjective represents only the end state of the action: I shot him, he was shot; what you've suggested is to point out that shot has two meanings, one to engage in the act of shooting someone, and also two, to be in the state representing having been hit by a bullet. The verb and its past tense correlated adjective are simply frequently structured thusly.

It's interesting, though, that this divide should seem apparent.

Re:actually, they do (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21979922)

The verb and its past tense correlated adjective are simply frequently structured thusly.

I'm confused about what you mean here.
  1. I shot him. This is past tense in the active voice. (shoot/shot/shot)
  2. He was shot. This is past tense (was) in the passive voice, using the past participle (shoot/shot/shot)
What is a past tense correlated adjective? The past participle is nomally the one used as an adjective (e.g. The man was beaten -> The beaten man).

Re:actually, they do (1)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21980000)

He means when you say something like "Freddy was shotingly shot last night." Which is funny, cause I just happened to say that to my wife the other day.

Re:actually, they do (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#21978742)

Since (2) is the only meaning that people seem familiar with, can we geeks perhaps agree to never, ever use that word in the (1) context again, or just abandon it altogether?

Thanks,

Re:actually, they do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21978886)

Yes, clumsey wording. The way I read it, it was the second definition - all of the old treatments were now "moot", because this new one is so much better.

I can't hear the word moot without thinking the old SNL skit starring Jesse Jackson as the host of a gameshow called "The Question is Moot"... I loved that one.

Re:Bad Title (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21981510)

Probably just one of those vertical-flip typos.
What he meant was "w00ted!".

Moderators... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976598)

By denying treatment for what affects such a large portion of today's elderly society, 4chan moderators have simply gone too far.

Re:Moderators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976946)

Mod anon up. None of us is as cruel as all of us

Re:Moderators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21977642)

i'm crueler than you. also, GP - you are banned from teh intarnets. Go. Now.

Not surprised, but surprised (-1, Offtopic)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976618)

All I can say, is "wow." This is amazing. But I'm not actually terribly surprised. I can see that one of the major chokepoints to improved science is communication, that is, the ability to quickly research related concepts to an idea. We all know how much the Internet is improving this. Another important barrier is how fast we can iterate over trials, and improvements in technology are making this process faster as well. This process of mutually reinforcing synergy is leading to geometric or even exponential growth, which are both explosively fast. So hold on, folks. Weird stuff is coming. And I love that there is a link to pooping in the article. Nice touch

How about a study with n1? (4, Insightful)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976644)

I'm really not sure why this "study" was worth publishing. Where are the statistics of patient status after injection of drug vs. injection of drug-free control? How about a timecourse? Or anything besides anecdotes from one patient?

The hype on the article compared to what is shown is shocking. Even if the compound is a silver bullet that instantly and completely reverses Alzheimer's, you'd never know it from a paper like this. So this is an essentially useless bit of PR.

Re:How about a study with n1? (4, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977022)

Also, this is a widely prescribed drug! It seems unlikely that it has massive, instantaneous effects on cognitive function that no one has noticed before.

As with the miraculous improvement in solar power efficiency in the next story, I'd love for this to work out but am not holding my breath.

Re:How about a study with n1? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21977222)

Also, this is a widely prescribed drug! It seems unlikely that it has massive, instantaneous effects on cognitive function that no one has noticed before.

I know it's wrong to read the article, but to work on Alzheimer's, the drug was injected into the spine. This is definitely an off-label use. Most likely, it doesn't cross the blood brain barrier. If this works, it might be possible to make a similar drug which can cross it.

Re:How about a study with n1? (2, Interesting)

virtualXTC (609488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21979306)

It isn't likely that AmGen would attempt to revise the structure of etanercept as they would then have painstakingly go back though every phase of clinical trials again with even the slightest modification. If they use the same product, they only need to complete Phase IIb (efficacy) and Phase III studies to market the drug for this now off-off label use.
While an injection to the spine may not seem ideal for patients, it would prove beneficial as there almost certainly would be many competitors to follow due to the fair number of other drugs that act on the exact same pathway. In fact, Embrol was actually originally developed as a rheumatory arthritis drug, targeting Tumor Necrosis Factor. (It has since been proven effective against many other autoimmune diseases.) While there are drugs like Remicade, Humira that also inhibit TNF, a positive result when using Embrol in Alzheimer's seems to implicate ANY drug that targets autoimmune disease as a possible cure.

Re:How about a study with n1? (2, Interesting)

muridae (966931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21979736)

It's also not likely that AmGen or Wyeth will work from Enbrel simple because it's a huge protein structure. 51234.9 g/mol is not tiny by any measure. Tweaking a protein to get through the blood brain barrier might not be the best way to go. This may be just a small part of the protein at work, or spinal injections might just be the simpler way to deliver it.

They could always re-patent some new delivery method, maybe a better diluent.

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21993924)

There is a spot on the journal article [jneuroinflammation.com] to leave comments -- why don't you start a discussion there where knowledgeable people can comment on it?

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

Da_Biz (267075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21991372)

Uh, it's been a few years since I took Human A&P, but last time I checked, if you were injecting something into the spine (i.e., in a manner similar to doing an lumbar puncture), you WERE crossing the blood-brain barrier.

As for this drug, hell, who knows.

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

barakn (641218) | more than 6 years ago | (#22001000)

The AC who wrote the parent to your post obviously knew that. He/she was saying that it doesn't cross the BBB when used on-label, not off-label.

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977726)

Creatine is another inexpensive drug that has amazing positive effects on PTSD and Alcoholism, for example.

Drug usage by large numbers of patients means we have a lot of literature on side effects and dosage levels of course.

So it's not bad that many people use it.

But I too agree that I don't buy the hype that it's the best thing since sliced bagels ...

Results of a few minutes of work (3, Informative)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977804)

My two-minute Pubmed screening (dinner's getting cold) shows that it seems that this guy's more recent papers, at least, are all technical note-like submissions in online journals. He also has some noted conflicts of interest. However, there is one pilot study. I don't know if this [nih.gov] link will work without going through Pubmed, but this is a year-old pilot study that is probably not the one referenced in the article. They basically conclude, like so many other pilots, that the treatment is promising but needs more rigorous study.

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21980448)

How would censoring a potential Alzheimer's cure (and one that makes sense based on fairly well-established theory) on the basis of the methodology used to conduct the research improve the scenario?

If the research doesn't hold up, the community will figure it out. Now that the cat is essentially out of the bag, people are going to perform their own experiments to confirm or refute these claims. Even if this particular treatment doesn't work, the paper still contains the germs of ideas required to produce a more effective one.

So here are the possible "bad" scenarios:

  1. False positive: The paper is accepted when the theory is really flawed. A few scientists spend perhaps a few months devising experiments to test the claims, and refute the paper based on further empirical evidence. If the theoretical aspects of the paper make sense, it may still be extended to produce a working cure. The only thing wasted is a small amount of effort, and even that is not entirely in vain.
  2. False negative: A working Alzheimer's cure never sees the light of day.

It's clear which of these outcomes is better.

I've never quite understood the concept of scientific skepticism, at least as it's currently practiced in the field. It's ok to demand a large amount of empirical evidence before personally accepting a theory, but it is actually a very bad decision from the perspective of utility theory (or anything that utilizes expectation) to censor a plausible idea. Statistically, unless the probability that the theory is true is small enough to negate the consequences of the theory being true, it's a losing strategy, since it prevents others from even gaining exposure to the theory; a necessary precondition to devising experiments to gather additional evidence.

(Disclaimer: I do biomedical research on the human brain, but do not possess expert knowledge in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease; my field is closer to CAD. YMMV).

Re:How about a study with n1? (2, Insightful)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22002640)

The issue is not about censoring a plausible idea. The question is whether highly hyped papers with extraordinarily little data are a good idea.

The problem with publications that have n=1 and consist of anecdotal observations is that they are highly unreliable. Since most "negative result" papers never get published, allowing unreliable anecdotes to be published leaves a trail of debris in the literature--you see various promising-sounding papers with no follow-up. You can surmise that the claims were probably false, but it could also be just that no-one was paying attention. It would be good if more negative-result papers were published, but until then, sloppy, unreliable work shouldn't be published in scientific journals. It's a distraction.

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

BadManBob (1216642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21981418)

Amgen and their "studies"... Until we see some hard data on things such as life expectency, real cognitive improvement and, above all, safety, this is just a press release with big words.

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

driftingwalrus (203255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21985940)

Somebody hasn't looked up the references! There was a prior 6 month study with IIRC 15 participants. Linky: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/529176 [medscape.com]

Re:How about a study with n1? (1)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22002494)

The prior study was interesting, and was published. The new one doesn't add much.

Log term effects? (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976718)

Do we really want to put people on new drugs like this? What if in 40 years all these people come down with some kind of cancer?

Re:Log term effects? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976790)

Forget about cancer. I think patients turning into logs is a far more urgent issue.

Re:Log term effects? (3, Informative)

RetroGeek (206522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976800)

From the original article:

potential risks of etanercept, including infection, cytopenias, possible increased risk of lymphoma and demyelinating disease, death, eye inflammation, and congestive heart failure;

Re:Log term effects? (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977142)

Yes but it allows you to make a fortitude roll to negate the side-effects.

Re:Log term effects? (2, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976940)

Not sure if you're kidding but aren't most Alzheimer's patients old enough that 40 years down the road isn't a big concern for them?

Re:Log term effects? (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977004)

Do we really want to put people on new drugs like this? What if in 40 years all these people come down with some kind of cancer?

Do the math.

I think a 75 year old diagnosed with alzheimer's wouldn't blink at taking a chance on that. Coming down with cancer at 115 is not going to impact him much. He'll probably have died 15-25 years prior.

And I think even a 35 year old diagnosed with alzheimer's would probably take that chance. Choosing cancer in your 70s vs severe dementia by 40... its not a call I'd find hard to make. I'll take the 'cure' thanks. And maybe 40 years from now they'll be able to control the cancer too.

Re:Log term effects? (3, Informative)

Danse (1026) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977682)

Do we really want to put people on new drugs like this? What if in 40 years all these people come down with some kind of cancer?

Do the math.

I think a 75 year old diagnosed with alzheimer's wouldn't blink at taking a chance on that. Coming down with cancer at 115 is not going to impact him much. He'll probably have died 15-25 years prior.
Slasdot. Where everyone plays the straight man, without even realizing it.

Re:Log term effects? (0)

jamie (78724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21979078)

You misspelled "Slashdot."

Re:Log term effects? (1)

7Prime (871679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21988680)

Captain obvious to the rescue!

"I still don't know what sarcasm is, but whatever it is, it must be stopped!"

Re:Log term effects? (1)

tolomea (1026104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977058)

Then they get 40 years to help us find a cure for cancer, at this stage I think that's a fairly safe bet.

Re:Log term effects? (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977274)

What if in 40 years all these people come down with some kind of cancer?

Well, let's see. Since Alzheimer's is predominantly a disease that effects the elderly, I think you'll find quite a few of them willing to take risks like that.

Re:Log term effects? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977520)


Do we really want to put people on new drugs like this? What if in 40 years all these people come down with some kind of cancer?


Is there a single person with Alzheimer's Disease and a life expectancy > 40 years? Somehow I think that's an acceptable risk.

It's funny. Laugh.

Oh yeah, cancer, Alzheimer's... it's a hoot! ;)

Re:Log term effects? (2, Informative)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977660)

Is there a single person with Alzheimer's Disease and a life expectancy > 40 years? Somehow I think that's an acceptable risk.

No.

The average person with Probable Alzheimer's Disease status (there is no such thing as certain, until we take your brain and slice it and stain it, actually) has a life expectancy, even if they got early onset AD at around age 40, of at most 20 years.

Related research (1)

Shamanarchy (1054298) | more than 6 years ago | (#21980100)

Etanercept is not a "new" drug, in the sense that it has already been trialed and approved for use in various inflamatory conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. What concerns me is use of the perispinal injection and what trials have been conducted for this method of delivery. It looks like there is a link between this study and other research by Dr Edward Tobinick. I found a reference to a 6 month trial of this treatment involving 15 patients: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/529176 [medscape.com] (registration required) I also found a Medline reference to an article on "Efficacy of etanercept delivered by perispinal administration for chronic back and/or neck disc-related pain: a study of clinical observations in 143 patients" Current Medical Research & Opinion 20(7):1075-85, 2004 Jul

Re:Log term effects? (3)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21980116)

I know you're joking, but I'll take cancer over Alzheimer's. Even if the drug directly caused it. I may die in miserable pain, but I'll die as me.

Alzheimer's and growing old (5, Interesting)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976796)

For all the medical problems society obsesses over treatments for (cancer, aids, and other popular areas), Alzheimer's (and senility in general) is the one that scares me the most. I would rather die in pain, with my mind intact, than slowly forget who I am.

My paternal grandmother died before Alzheimer's was well recognized, but in retrospect it's pretty likely to be the cause of her condition. My grandfather, having seen his wife forget who he was, was always far more afraid of going down that same path than he was of his own approaching end - and I can easily see his point.

The worst part about growing old isn't physical frailty... it's the slow breakdown of cognitive power. Of course, as a 33-year-old I can say this with absolute authority. The worst part of *that* is that it doesn't wait to start until you're old, either. I'm sure most of you have noticed changes over the years, and not all of them good.

Here's a question that's been on my mind lately. How would most of you rate changes to how your mind has worked over the years? Have you noticed your reflexes aren't what they were when you were a teenager? Looking at any older writings of yours, have you ever had the feeling that your imagination may have grown more refined, but also lost some of it's raw power at some point? Regardless of the cognitive rewards of time and experience, are there any earlier capabilities that you feel you may have lost some grip on, or even noticed more clearly in younger coworkers or relatives than you used to?

In my case, for example, I've noticed that in a video game, I just don't react to unexpected situations quite as fast or well as I used to. I remember charging into a room in Doom, blasting everything I saw and dodging almost every shot - whereas lately I tend to get hit more often - I don't do the duck-and-dodge like I did in my teens and early 20's. On the other hand, I'm much more calculating in every move I make, and find it easier to manipulate computer opponents than it used to be - even with all the advances in AI. I don't have the raw speed and reaction time that I used to, but the intellectual component comes more readily and with virtually no effort compared to before.

What do you younger guys think of the minds of older coworkers? What about any of you in your 30's and 40's, in dealing with people younger or older than you on an intellectual level? And of the most interest to me, how do you geezers (I know there's some who come here - maybe even a handful) relate to us 30-somethings? Do we seem like slightly inexperienced versions of your peers? Or do we seem like idiot children with fast reflexes but weak comprehension?

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976988)

I thought you might have something to say but then you started talking about Doom and I turned you off.

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (1)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977176)

I picked Doom because virtually everyone here could identify with that - and because intense experiences make it easier to recall your train of thought years later. I originally was going to mention books and how you interpreted them differently over time, but that would be inherently unfair, since a healthily aged mind would see few defects in that area over time.

Otherwise, dismissing a post for mentioning a popular shared experience would be much like me dismissing your comment for, say, not using commas to separate phrases, or mine for consisting entirely of long and winding run-on sentences (which are extremely difficult to try to punctuate with anything approaching grammatical correctness).

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (3, Interesting)

another_twilight (585366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977406)

From personal experience I tend to 'learn' a response to certain situations (patterns of AI in games for eg). The first few instances are all reaction, but as time goes on it starts to become stimulus-response. I suspect that as you get older you accumulate a larger set experiences from which you can draw - simultaneously giving you a greater depth and refinement to your response, but requiring less and less pure reaction.

What you don't use, you lose. I dare say that just as physical fitness, which used to be so easy in our 20s now requires more effort to maintain, so too mental flexibility, responsiveness and reaction.

Anecdotally, I have not yet observed a degredation in raw reaction (late 30s), but I have been fairly agressive in making sure to constantly find things that require that I use/exercise this. Try learning a new physical activity/sport (and then another in a year or so). Find new ways to play games - yes, you can out-think your AI opponent, so how about playing with pistol/s only? No save/restores?.

It may be that the comparison to physical fitness/conditioning is a poor one and it is simply a matter of maintaining a 'familiarity' with novelty so that my brain doesn't insist on trying to find a learned response to use in every situation. Perhaps it will all catch up with me shortly, and/or my self-perception is more distorted than I have allowed. YMMV.

Only really seeing one effect, but it's a big one. (1)

Cybrex (156654) | more than 6 years ago | (#21990252)

Most of my cow-orkers are idiots, regardless of age, so I guess that the only conclusion I can draw from this is that as I've gotten older (I just turned 38 a couple of weeks ago) I've grown more cynical and less tolerant of others' mental shortcomings. ;-)

As for reflexes, they've slowed a bit but not as much as I'd feared they would back when I was a teenager. I can still pull off the occasional double-jump-then-headshot-in-midair-while-maneuvering-around-the-incoming-rocket maneuver, but it's less common than it used to be and I get more enjoyment out of mental gymnastics (Portal is my current obsession).

All in all I think I'm sharper and smarter than I was 10 or 20 years ago with one glaring exception. My short-term memory and attention span have turned to complete crap. It's so bad that I've considered possibly seeing a doctor. I forget what I'm saying in mid sentence (unrecoverably) at least a couple of times per day, and am able to function at work only because I always carry around a note pad as a rolling "To Do" list. At my wife's suggestion I've started keeping a pad of post-it notes at the computer at home so that if I sit down to (for example) check e-mail and update a web site I'll actually do both tasks, rather that start one, get distracted half way through, and then end up completing neither one. Yes, two items requires a list. A single distraction can lead to a chain that sets be back hours without even realizing it. Ever put in a DVD and then forget to press play? To say that it's frustrating would be an understatement.

It's also easier for me to do most of my communication by e-mail or chat rather than in person, since I can't very well take notes on things I want to mention while the person I'm talking with is speaking. It's like my mind is just as quick to think of things as it's always been, but the stack that holds things between when they're thought of and acted upon has vanished.

Oh, and my hearing now sucks ass as well, but that's directly attributable to my best friend in high school getting car stereo components at cost. :-)

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21978070)

Here's a question that's been on my mind lately. How would most of you rate changes to how your mind has worked over the years? Have you noticed your reflexes aren't what they were when you were a teenager? Looking at any older writings of yours, have you ever had the feeling that your imagination may have grown more refined, but also lost some of it's raw power at some point? Regardless of the cognitive rewards of time and experience, are there any earlier capabilities that you feel you may have lost some grip on, or even noticed more clearly in younger coworkers or relatives than you used to?

Well, as you've mentioned aging and reflexes I suppose I have some leeway here.

I'm male and now well into my 32nd year of life, and I'm forcing myself to whack off a lot more these days.

Wait, wait! Upon all that might be holy, I swear this is not a troll.

I was reading through the Slashdot firehose stories just yesterday when this one caught my attention: Fatherhood Linked To Prostate Cancer Risk [sciencedaily.com] . I voted it up and hoped that enough other people would notice it and do the same for it to become a front-page story, but evidently that did not happen. The gist of the story is that males with no children are at lower risk for prostate cancer than men who do have children. But, amongst those men who do have children, the more kids they have, the more their risk begins to decline again! How about that.

Of course, me being a male Slashdot reader, I immediately came to the conclusion that the root cause of this is the amount of ejaculation going on. (Again, I swear this is not a troll.) Seriously ... think about it. As a bachelor male, at worst there's still a decent amount of masturbation going on and at best, actual sex (likely with as many women as possible). No kids, no woman dragging you down ... really nothing to kill your sex drive. But if you get saddled with kids (with or without a wife), how does sex (real or imaginary) have any appeal at that point? For most, not a whole lot. And if you are still interested in sex, how much does your now-a-mom wife or girlfriend really find sex interesting anymore? So your prostate starts to atrophy. It is part muscle, after all. The exception is if you're one of those really sex-crazed males or uber-religious types (and some will argue they're one and the same) who just continues bonking his wife and cranking out yet more kids. In that case, your prostate is still getting exercise.

So, umm, yeah. I've come to the conclusion that the prostate is much like any muscle ... use it or lose it. Or in this case, get cancer.

But getting back to your original question (and I hope by this point you've figured out why I'm posting this anonymously), when I reached a little past 31, my sex-drive died. I mean in a bullet-to-the-head kind of a way. I'd been absolutely obsessed with sex since before my teens, then all through them, and then clear through my twenties. Then I got to about 31.5 and it all came crashing to a halt. But with this somewhat unorthodox theory now on my mind, I've actually been forcing myself to masturbate as often as I humanly can. Yah, I know. If you folks are finding this just a little hard to believe, all I can say is that 10 years ago I'd have agreed with you. I'd be asking how the hell can any male have to force themselves to do something like that. It's like second nature for a male! But again, I tell you I can't believe how much my sex-drive has just come to a complete halt. It's like someone threw a switch. I only hope if you're having a hard time believing any of this now, that you never come to understand it yourself through first-hand experience, because it's actually kind of emasculating and depressing.

So in conclusion, as much as you may think aging may have affected you, there's always room for it to affect you even more. I'm sorry that's not very upbeat. But whatever happens to you, keep exercising your prostate! Even if there's no real appeal anymore, force yourself anyway. I know it sounds really sad and more than a little crazy, but I'm convinced that that old "use it or lose it" adage is really something to keep in mind regarding any part of your body.

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21978882)

Did your girlfriend complain when you stopped wanting to have sex?

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21979294)

Did your girlfriend complain when you stopped wanting to have sex?

I'm actually glad you asked that question. It's made me realize that I haven't just lost all interest in sex, I've also completely lost any interest in companionship too. I don't really know what that means -- maybe one part of my male brain is still alive and healthy? That is, maybe I just always considered the primary reason for having a girlfriend was easier access to sex. And now, with no interest in sex, why would be interested in a girlfriend? Damn. Can I possibly be that shallow? Thanks again for asking that question. I'm really going to have to think about this.

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21979732)

Consider as well

"I don't want to be with my girlfriend"
"That's a terrible/painful thought, I can't think that"
"I am with my girlfriend because of sex"
"I don't want sex"
"That's a more palatable thought"

I am not suggesting that this is the case, but if you are going to be doing some self-examination, be careful about areas that you find yourself shying away from, or to which you have a strong, reflexive denial to.

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (2)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 6 years ago | (#21979184)

Regarding your theory, I think it may be spot-on, I seem to remember reading that studies have shown precisely this, that men with more frequent ejaculations run less risk of prostate cancer.

Regarding the very sudden disappearance of your sex drive, I think you should explore the cause, because it may be an early warning about far more serious problems building up without you noticing.

I think the suddenness indicates that it very likely it's due to (possibly unnoticed) severe stress. In that case the stress may be slowly damaging you severely, even though you may not notice the stress at all -- this can happen while you feel wonderful in all respects. Thus it might be a good idea to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, whatever the appropriate therapist is called in your country (the terminology varies). There's a lot you can do to prevent stress-induced deterioration just by seeing the right expert and learning a few methods. A specialist on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would probably be ideal.

If stress is not the cause, several other possible causes would be urological, although in that case I would expect the change to be gradual (but I'm no expert). Then it would be a good idea to see a urologist. There are also lots of other possibilities, such as drugs, blood system, neurology etc, but your urologist should know all these possibilities, and can send you to the right expert if necessary.

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (2, Interesting)

Magada (741361) | more than 6 years ago | (#21984278)

Still unsure if you're a troll, but... the statistical corellation between the frequency of ejaculations and prostate cancer likelyhood is well-documented. Sex is good for you, even if you do it one-handed!

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (2, Informative)

CharlesEGrant (465919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21979658)

The worst part about growing old isn't physical frailty... it's the slow breakdown of cognitive power. Of course, as a 33-year-old I can say this with absolute authority.


I'm sure circumstances vary widely, but my experience is just the opposite. In the last few years my wife and I have lost all four of our parents: hers to heart disease and Parkinson's, mine to heart disease and Alzheimer's. None of them is a picnic, but from what I saw, Parkinson's was a much harder road then the others. The initial diagnosis of Alzheimer's was devastating to my mother, but as the disease progressed she lost track of the fact that she was severely impaired. The world became a very confusing and sometimes frightening place for her, but death and suffering no longer loomed over her. Life was lived minute to minute. Some minutes were good, and some were bad, but they never lasted very long, and there is some comfort in that. My father-in-law had a Parkinson's like condition and retained his mental acuity to the bitter end. For three years he could fully appreciate the gradual process of being buried alive in his own body. He bore it stoically, but you could see how frightening it was.

By contrast, the deaths from heart disease were traumatic, but quickly over.

Re:Alzheimer's and growing old (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21981106)

Whether it's brain or body, the rule of fitness in nature is use it or lose it. If you're not exercising your brain and your body every day you can expect them to deteriorate. Some forms of deterioration are more permanent than others. The aging process certainly comes into it as well, but it's not the end all be all. For example could it be that you react less quickly in video games because you play them less often than when you were younger? At least might that not be a contributing factor?

Actually, the other way around (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#21988506)

Actually, being in the 30's too, I'd say it's exactly the opposite image than you paint.

One thing I've eventually recognized, and struck me as very interesting, is that your own impression of how much you know doesn't depend on age, as such. If you were to plot Y = how much you think you know, vs X = how much you actually know, it would look pretty much like a Gauss curve, with a very early peek.

When you're first learning a new domain, be it programming or playing the guitar or playing Go, at first your own impression of your progress goes up almost exponentially. Tiny, trivial, new things learned seem as if you're becoming teh uber-expert fast.

Seriously. My first attempts at playing Go, made me believe that I'm the next champion at it. In reality I had barely progressed the first couple of kyu (out of about 30 kyu ranks, i.e., novice ranks, and that's before even getting into the dan range where the real skill is.)

Trying to learn an instrument was the same. I could barely do the most simple tunes, but it seemed like I'm a natural-born music genius. Surely at that rate I'll be the next super-star within a year or two.

Trying to learn programming, well, let's just say writing a 1k BASIC program seemed like I'm the programming gods' avatar and prophet. Now add some assembly and a bit of Pascal in there, and I could swear that I'm the biggest programming genius that ever walked the Earth. Sure, dad's coleagues who were writing assembly 8 hours a day for a living, just smiled and politely nodded at my one-page programs, but I was sure that that's just because they're boring old adults.

And if at this point anyone wants to answer along the lines of, "OMG, you're stupid", well, yes, in retrospect I was. But the consolation is that I'm not the only one. You can see it in a lot of other people, exactly the same. E.g., in all the schoolkids who've barely learned to pluck a few notes on a guitar, and already think they're the next rock super-star, and are already planning band tours.

At any rate, that rapid over-estimation of one's abilities comes to a peak eventually. There's a point where it seems you know almost everything (or will surely find it trivial if you ever have to deal with anything else.)

That's simply the point where you haven't yet learned how much you _don't_ know yet. You're like the village kid who's climbed the little hill outside the village, and thinks that he's at the top of the world. Simply because he doesn't even know yet that there's an Everest somewhere else.

And then it starts to gradually go down as you start to learn about all the things you don't know yet. Plus you're running out of trivial things to plough through, so that extrapolation that everything left is also trivial, no longer seems that founded.

It seems to me that a lot of people experienced that curve, and mistake it for effects of age. When in fact it's anything but. Yes, you'll be arrogant and sure you know everything when you're young, because, well, chances are you're only then reaching that peak. But if you started on another domain at 40, you'd probably experience the same curve shifted to that point. You'd reach a point at 45-50 when you think you're the super-genius on your new domain, and the whole world is doomed to worship you for ever.

Yes, your cognitive functions _will_ eventually decline, but at 33 they haven't even properly started to. You may fancy you already feel the effects of age, but that's likely all in your imagination and a bit of selective-confirmation for your own fears.

Last time I saw, for example, a curve of inventions against age, it peaked a little after 35, and it won't be until the 50's that you're back to being as much of a "genius" as in your teenage years. Other curves peaked a lot later. E.g., literary or musical masterpieces vs age peaked in the 50's and 60's respectively.

The thing about games... well, there are so many possibilities for what you think you're noticing there, that I don't even know where to start. For a start it's entirely possible that you no longer play exactly as many hours a day, so your reflexes just dulled for (relatively) lack of use. Or it's possible that it's entirely in your head: different selective confirmation. The exact same score can feel like "woohoo, I fragged the others 15 times, I rule!!!" or like "damn, I got fragged 14 times, I suck." It's the same 15:14 score, the only thing different is the frame of mind you read (and played) it in. It's also possible that you're playing against different people now, who are a lot more skilled than your previous opponents. It's possible that after enough year your enthusiasm for FPS declined eventually, so now you're seeing it through different eyes and playing it differently. It's possible that you're just playing different games, and the same skills that ruled in a Doom deathmatch, now doom you in a more tactical game. Etc.

Again, given enough age, your brain _will_ eventually have trouble dealing with fast-paced deathmatches. But at 33, give me a break, you're not even close to when that happens. I know people older than you, one almost twice your age, which don't yet suck at FPS. Heck, my _father_ still plays Counter-Strike and the like, and I'm a bit older than you, so my father, let's just say, even more so.

Briefly: Unless you have a case of premature aging, you shouldn't really be seeing anything noticeable yet.

So that's how it works eh? In minutes? (2, Interesting)

socz (1057222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976854)

Well, that is different from my understanding of the disease. I saw a program on PBS called "Brain Fitness" and they talk about a lot of things related to the brain. They touch in Alzheimer's and what the internal physical effects are.

It's hard to believe that a degenerative disease can be corrected almost instantly. They talked about the connection between different cells and the multiple connections to those cells with other cells that give people the ability to put ideas together. They said that when those connections physically weaken, then the memories start to "fade."

I'm curious as to how this drug accomplishes having cells communicate once again even though their paths are no longer viable for transmitting information.

Although i'm a skeptic on this drug, if it works i'll give it to my grandma! Maybe it'll keep her from waking up in the middle of the night and asking if the chicken is ready!

Re:So that's how it works eh? In minutes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21977054)

I'm curious as to how this drug accomplishes having cells communicate once again even though their paths are no longer viable for transmitting information.

Talking out of my ass here, but couldn't the case be made that even though the connection itself might have been broken, there may be some little stub left that the connection could regrow from once the attack was stopped? Or, to use a car(ish) analogy, if neuron A was Houston, and neuron B was Dallas, and aliens came and ripped up all the pavement on I-45 between Houston and Dallas, once Will Smith nukes the aliens and saves the world the interstate would be rebuilt, probably along the exact same path.

But building an entire interstate in minutes? I'd pay to see that in the movies.

Re:So that's how it works eh? In minutes? (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977160)

Well in that program, they said "that the connections are like straws. The outside has a coating, and the inside is like the meat. When the outside coating wears out or wears thin, then it starts to slowly lose it's ability to transmit information." If it's severed, then of course no information can be transmitted right? But, if the connection exists, i presume that over time it could be re-coated and connectivity re-established.

Like i said, i'm all for anything that'll work at this point! Namenda is doing pretty good! But she still gets squirrelly from time to time.

Just In Time for Terry! (4, Funny)

Dunx (23729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21976862)

With any luck this treatment will be (a) effective enough, and (b) available enough in the UK for it to have a positive effect on Terry Pratchett's condition.

Re:Just In Time for Terry! (2, Funny)

DarkGreenNight (647707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977294)

So, I see that the plan has worked:

http://somethingpositive.net/sp12232007.shtml [somethingpositive.net]

(Hopefully this will be the start of a good treatement to all those afflicted by this disease)

Just one problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21976998)

The patients keep forgetting to take their meds!

I'm pumping this (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977082)

This news is very bright. I've seen the effects of Alzheimer's, and it can be horrifically damaging not only to the immediate sufferer, but to their entire family. This sort of dramatically, immediately effective solution for a very real and pressing human need is why science and technology are outrageously cool.

Amgen and Wyeth jointly market Enbrel. Given the size of the aging boomer population, I expect this to make a huge amount of money. Therefore, I'm planning to put my liquid investment funds into AMGN (which is at a better technical condition for a run-up than Wyeth), in the morning. Even if it takes a couple of years before Alzheimer's use gets approval, it's going to see a lot of off-label use meanwhile, and the long-term investment is excellent, in an otherwise pretty dismal market environment.

I would guess that Indian generic manufacturers will take it up too, long before it goes off-patent in the US and Europe, but it's hard to say who will get there first.

Re:I'm pumping this (1)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21979472)

Don't be so sure about the generics at this point. Etanercept is a biological (conjugated soluble TNF-alpha receptors, if I'm not mistaken) and the high costs of getting into biotech, as well as the lack of any clear regulatory pathway for 'biosimilars' has acted as a barrier to generic entry in the past. On the other hand, if this relatively simple drug is shown to be active against Alzheimer's, I'm sure it would create a market incentive sufficient to drawn SOMEBODY new into the market.

The submitter's work is done (1)

Shandalar (1152907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21980618)

Congratulations - you have just been manipulated by the submitter, who was hoping this would happen.

I would take this with a grain of HCl (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977626)

The scientific discussion is still ongoing, IMHO.

The problem mostly is that we're still dealing with symptoms and not with the underlying mechanistic fault that causes AD.

For example, we're investigating various drugs that remove plaque in the brain, but the problem arises that we don't have anything that actually corrects the mechanism which creates the plaque in the first place. And most of the treatments are moderately risky so far.

Re:I would take this with a grain of HCl (2, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21978584)

You might like some NaOH to go with that HCl.

Re:I would take this with a grain of HCl (2, Funny)

DirkGently (32794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21984760)

...for those of you that had chem at 8am on a monday, when you combine those two you get salt @ water. I just had to point that out because I thought it a particularly funny nerd-joke and I didn't want anyone to miss it.

Re:I would take this with a grain of HCl (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21986836)

I was going to use NaCl, but I thought Hydrochloric Acid would be much more fun.

By the way, don't use dihydroxide, it's poison!

With a grain of HCl? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21978714)

Really? [wikipedia.org] Naaaaaaaaaa. [wikipedia.org]

Re:I would take this with a grain of HCl (1)

paxmark1 (636441) | more than 6 years ago | (#21980686)

Be interesting if they try it out on Down's dementia. I've seen the present generation drugs buy a couple years for individuals with the similar Down's dementia towards the end. (I really was quite skeptical about the drugs.) But it just buys some quality time, gives caregivers a little more time to get ready for the end. peace

Re:I would take this with a grain of HCl (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21987150)

Good points. Most people don't realize that virtually all Down's Syndrome subjects eventually will develop Dementia, and then die (fairly young).

Anything that helps with symptoms for said patients is probably a good thing, even if it doesn't "cure" the underlying problem.

One hopes that the drug is useful for Dementia for AD, DS, and other related problems - even if it doesn't cure someone, if it can keep them more functional and less demented, the risk might be far less than the reward.

One patient? Competing interests? (3, Informative)

a_d_white (458540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21977690)

While the basic biology seems sound, this result is from only one patient while one of the authors holds stock in the company that manufactures the drug and has applied for several patents for its use in treating Alzheimer's.

Pardon me while I await the large sample, randomized controlled double-blind study by authors with no competing interests to confirm these findings.

Hello, my name is timothy. (1)

wdr1 (31310) | more than 6 years ago | (#21981090)

I'm not a doctor, but as a Slashdot Editor, I feel free to correct those who are.

I, for one, am quite relieved. (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21983332)

Now, who are you again?

Pittsburgh Compound (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21989388)

It's an old article, but if you really want to know about Alzheimer's research, look into what they've been able to do using the Pittsburgh Compound [sciencedaily.com] .
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