Fundraising Posters: Do You Want to Suffer Alzheimer's?

People are very good at not thinking about the personal inevitability of aging and age-related disease. We all know what happens to the aged. It happens to those we know and care about. It is no big secret that aging causes pain, suffering, and death on a vast scale. Yet here we stand, you and I, consumed by the minutiae of day to day life, in which from moment to moment we put little thought into our future state of frailty and loss of dignity. Across a long history of being unable to greatly influence aging, and the pain and death it causes, this ability to put aside foreknowledge has proven a great strength. It let individuals work and prosper and build despite knowing all too well what was coming down the line. We live in a society of wealth and technology enabled by the toil of our ancestors, the majority of whom suffered and died because of aging.

And now? This talent for looking anywhere but ahead is killing us. What has changed? Medical technology. Unlike every past generation, we stand within reach of means to control and indefinitely delay the aging process. Aging is damage to cells and tissues, and for each of those types of damage researchers can envisage in detail at least one development program to produce a means of repair. The cost of getting to working prototypes in mice for all of these is probably in the vicinity of $1-2 billion spread over 10-20 years, not all that different from the amounts of time and money required to run a single drug candidate through the present regulatory process.

Yet to a first approximation this development isn't happening. Only a tiny amount of funding is presently devoted towards the development of means to repair the causes of aging and thus indefinitely postpone disease and death. There is little support among the public at large for such a goal, little awareness that any work is ongoing, or that there is the potential to strike out for great gains in health and longevity. Indeed there is little thought at all on the topic of medicine to treat and control the processes of aging, the root cause of so much pain and suffering for the old. Ignoring aging is no longer a good thing: it has now become a terrible strategy that is costing lives and costing health.

Ask someone you know today "do you want to suffer Alzheimer's disease?" Or heart disease. Or cancer. The answer is probably no. But why are they not doing something about it? Do they think it is out of their hands? None of their business? Or is it more a case of lapsing back into the daily grind wherever possible, avoiding uncomfortable existential thoughts about the future? The cancer and stem cell research establishments are examples of what should exist for aging: a research community of great size and vigor, aiming to extinguish disease and prevent disability. But it doesn't exist yet for aging, and the behavior of the people you know in response to these questions has a lot to do with that state of affairs. At the large scale and in the long term medical research funding follows the desire of the public. That 10-20 year countdown for treatments to prevent and reverse aging doesn't start at least the first shards of a massive research community do exist.

This is why we advocate and donate. So much is left to be done, and people are suffering and dying in vast numbers each and every day. This is why there must be people of vision leading the way, philanthropists of all stripes and means funding early stage research to bring greater attention to the best paths forward. The bootstrapping of the next generation of medical research for aging, the programs that will ultimately bring an end to all age-related disease, starts with us as much as with the researchers who see clearly enough to put forward their detailed plans in search of support and funding. We hold up the torch and guide the way, helping to bring greater resources to the research that deserves that support.

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Possibly, the treatment for (nearly) eliminating Alzheimer's is already here - if we use existing drugs off-label. See the following press release --

"Anti-rejection medications for transplant recipients protect against Alzheimer's disease"

"These data clearly show that the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's in our transplant patient group is significantly lower, in fact almost absent, when compared to national data from the general population," said senior author Luca Cicalese, professor in the department of surgery. "In patients over 65 years, 11 percent of the general population had dementia compared with 1.02 percent of the study subjects. In Americans over 75 years, 15.3 percent of the population had dementia compared with 0.6 percent of the study subjects. Among Americans over 85 years, 32 percent had dementia, although we did not have any patients in this age group with dementia."

Since the people involved in the study mostly come from Texas, the researchers further compared their over 65 years old group with the prevalence of Alzheimer's in the general population of the state and got similar results.

"Taken together, our findings from these people confirm the data obtained with animal models and support, for the first time in human subjects, our notion that calcineurin inhibition has a protective effect on the development and possible progression and even reversal of Alzheimer's disease,..."

Posted by: Lou Pagnucco at June 8th, 2015 9:14 PM

Lou can you provide a link to this information please?

Posted by: Steve H at June 9th, 2015 6:46 AM

Interesting but its an immunosuppressant so whilst it may mitigate AL it will compromise the immune system leaving you open to infections and disease. It is a real double edged sword.

I think there are other more promising avenues of research that may well end the suffering AL causes. the real problem is the sheer slow speed of research when such therapies should be fast tracked.

Same with the cancer therapy that targets CD47 expression and turns off the "do not eat me" signal the cells express that Stanford is developing. It should be fast tracked for testing and not taking decades to use. Right to try therapy should be exactly that!

Posted by: Steve H at June 9th, 2015 7:15 AM

"But why are they not doing something about it? "

Privatization fans of privatized medicine who ask for a collective effort (crowd funding) when it suit them and preach , otherwise, an uncaring individualism, are just trapped in a contradiction and fool only themselves.

Posted by: sinbad1 at June 9th, 2015 7:41 AM

Steve H,
I see Reason already posted the link.
While I agree that the Stanford approach should be pursued, it seems to me that the calcineurin-based anti-rejection drugs should be prescribed now to Alzheimer patients still sentient enough to assess the risk/reward ratio.

The "First, do no harm" maxim should be interpreted to recognize that denying a promising therapy to a doomed patient is doing harm.

Posted by: Lou Pagnucco at June 9th, 2015 10:09 AM

Lou I totally agree about right to try and the laws need to change to make it easier for the sick to take experimental drugs and therapies

Posted by: steve h at June 9th, 2015 3:22 PM
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