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First-of-its-kind Alzheimer's medicine slows cognitive decline.
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Posted by: LateForLunch

10/02/2022, 16:02:53

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Alzheimer's Drug Succeeds in Slowing Cognitive Decline |

Following the topic of medical advances in Alzheimer's Disease research has been an interest of my own since one of my extended family was hit hard by the disease, died from it.

Though there have been other medicines which have slowed the decline of symptoms, this is the first new one in a long, long time. The reason it's important is probably because it demonstrates how researchers are finally understanding more about how the mechanism of illness works.

The new drug uses a completely different approach biochemically than the previous medicine. This is the first successful attempt to reduce the formation of amyloid plaque which forms on neurons and (it is thought) eventually helps to damage/destroy them permanently, causing the disease symptoms.

It was previously unknown whether reducing the formation of plaque in and of itself would reduce symptoms and thankfully that is no longer the case. There is definitive evidence that the reduction in plaque helped by the medicine is directly related to the reduction in symptoms of dementia.

In every serious disease for which a cure or other significant treatment has been developed, the first step in the process was understanding the biochemical mechanisms which caused the disease in the first place.

So even if the reduction of symptoms is temporary (this new medicine 'just slows onset) it gives hope for the first time to those who suffer from the illness, that medical science may finally be zeroing in on the basic blueprint of the disease and therefore have a chance to benefit from medicines that will treat it effectively.

For those who have symptoms, there are numerous therapeutic things people can do unrelated to medicine, to help themselves stay healthier. Maintaining healthy interest in life - staying active mentally/physically, doing enjoyable things, including things which challenge a person mentally, benefits overall cognitive functionality and actually seems to slow the progression of physical degeneration.

The increasingly credible concept of health is that the human mind and body are a single, interdependent whole. Improving one's mental condition can significantly improve/maintain health of one's physical condition and vice versa.

One side note which has no real basis in current research - there is some speculation that a substance known as a "prion" (an active protein which causes inflammation/deterioration of human cells) may be part of the mechanism of Alzheimer's dementia. Prions are not alive, but they harm living tissue in an almost identical manner to pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi. There has even been some discussion among scientists that the definition of life might need to be tweaked to include prions.

Though the presence of prions have been correlated to Alzheimer's because they contribute to plaque formation, there has never been a direct link established between consumption of muscle tissue of food animals and disease.

Prions are often present in large amounts in the brains of animals suffering from certain diseases, but there is no research to show that the prions in the infected brains travel outside into the blood, muscles or organs of those animals.

The reason I mention the above about prions, is that my step-father's Alzheimer's was very nasty, (swift onset, devastatingly damaging to his functionality) and he consumed a HUGE amount of beef over his lifetime. Sometimes he would eat beef three times a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That's how much he loved beef.

I have taken this anecdotal information to heart and reduced my own beef intake (no more than twice a week) instead choosing chicken, pork, seafood or other sources of protein in my diet. Only beef is apparently a source of prions, so reducing beef in the diet may be an effective way to reduce exposure to prions.*
* So far researchers have been unable to find large amounts (relatively speaking) of prions in muscle tissue of food animals. Recent testing did find very low levels of prions in the muscle tissue of sheep infected with a prion-caused disease known as "scappie" (destroys the sheep's neural tissue). The levels of prions which are present in diseased brains is thousands of times higher than in muscle tissue. But that is no guarantee that prions don't accumulate in some form in muscle tissue- only that they have not been detected yet.

Modified by LateForLunch at Sun, Oct 02, 2022, 16:45:25

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