Today I’ll point out a few recent examples of research into Alzheimer’s disease; they are representative of present shifts in emphasis taking place in the field. There is a great deal of reexamination of existing mechanisms, alongside a search for new mechanisms. This is prompted by the continued failure to obtain meaningful progress towards patient improvement via clearance of amyloid, which some are interpreting as a need to look elsewhere for a viable basis for therapy. I believe it probably has more to do with the condition arising from multiple processes that have similarly sized contributions to cognitive decline: amyloid, tau, immune dysfunction, and vascular aging. Partially address one, and it may be hard to prove that a useful difference was made in patients because the other mechanisms are still present, still causing harm.
The Alzheimer’s-related portion of the broader field of aging research represents a sizable fraction of the output of the medical life science community these days. That is because much of the budget of the NIA has for some time been directed towards the study of Alzheimer’s disease, and that in turn influences the strategy taken by larger private funding sources and research programs. The
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