Today's Top News
A March 31, 2016 STAT News article reported that “An immune process implicated earlier this year in schizophrenia may also cause the devastating brain damage of Alzheimer’s disease, a surprising convergence that suggests the body’s defense system is responsible for two of the cruelest brain disorders.” According to the article, “And although any new therapies are years away — the study was in mice, which are often poor predictors of what will work in people — two upstart companies are racing to develop Alzheimer’s drugs that target the immune system. ‘I think this is a great discovery and will spark a lot of interest,’ said Joseph Rogers, who in the 1980s helped originate the idea that the immune system is involved in neurodegenerative diseases. Rogers, now acting president and executive director of special projects at SRI International, a nonprofit research center in Silicon Valley, was not involved in the new study.” Also reported on byScience Magazine.
A March 31, 2016 CBS News article highlighted the financial impact of Alzheimer’s on one married couple. According to the article, “When we first met Mike and Carol Daly eight years ago, Mike was the sole caregiver after her Alzheimer's diagnosis. He often took her to work with him.Today, at age 73, he's still working. But now, as Carol declines, a health care worker cares for her during the day. He said if he wanted to retire, he couldn't afford to care for Carol.”
RESEARCH, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY
An April 1, 2016 Financial Times article reported on the efforts of the pharmaceutical industry to leverage big data to speed drug development. According to the article, “As in so many areas, some of the most promising ideas are coming from Silicon Valley. In the era of big data and artificial intelligence, could computer algorithms provide a short-cut to the next generation of medical breakthroughs? Among the pioneers of computer-based drug discovery is a Californian company called Verseon. It has developed a system for modelling interactions between molecules to accelerate the hunt for compounds that can interfere with disease…Verseon is not the only Woodford-backed company aiming to add computing power to the search for new drugs. Another is London-based start-up Stratified Medical, which uses artificial intelligence to sift through huge global databases of scientific research in pursuit of hidden patterns. The company’s algorithms have already revealed two new potential drug targets for Alzheimer’s disease, leading to a deal worth up to $800m with an unidentified US drugmaker.” [account required]
An April 1, 2016 Science Alert article reported that “researchers have identified two gene variants carried by more than two-thirds of the global population that can cut your average lifespan by up to three years.” According to the article, “The variants (of the APOE gene and the CHRNA3/5 gene) are located on two separate areas of the human genome, and more than two-thirds of us carry one of them. But around three in every 1,000 people will inherit both variants from their parents, and together they can have a significant effect on how long you live…Interestingly, we know that Alzheimer’s disease tends to affect women more than men, and when comparing men and women in the UK cohort, the researchers found that the APOE variant had a greater effect on women, whereas the CHRNA3/5 variant linked to lung disease had a greater effect on men.”