This week I’ve received a question from one of my clients about the following article:
New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function
Of the mice that received the treatment, 75 percent got their memory function
Hi Nadine, What are your thoughts about this new development?
Thank you for asking my thoughts on this article, Kyle! It’s great that a new breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research has occurred. Research in the field is progressing and this provides much hope for the future.
I believe that it is important to keep in mind that “a breakthrough in science does not automatically mean that it is a breakthrough for Alzheimer’s patients themselves at this time. For example, this research is successful on mice that have been artificially given Alzheimer’s disease. Now they will do further studies on larger animals (sheep) whose brains appear to have more in common with people. Obviously, the question is whether this method also works for larger brains without causing damage. To be able to do this, new devices will need to be developed before any testing on humans is possible, provided that the further studies are successful. So unfortunately it will likely still be many years before there is an actual breakthrough.
For those animals / people who already have dead brain cells and damage in the brain, (resulting in cognitive deficits such as poor memory) the symptoms cannot be reversed. However it shows of big progress if further developments can be prevented inside the brains.
There are many promising results and research going on, which is difficult to track, as it’s a very complex neurological disease. So they have recently discovered that the real problem regarding damage to the brain is located in the oligomers which are the precursors of the plaques. This is a breakthrough indeed, but also the identification of genes and the elucidation of the chemical processes ensure that these accumulations occur.
Nevertheless it’s a very good development that researchers are putting so much effort in it and that consequently new pieces are found (breakthrough) of the huge complex puzzle.
When reading articles like this it is always important to remember to focus on the core of the research (the research setup and what they have discovered precisely). Don’t fall into the trap of misinterpreted “facts” by many journalists who are writing about the research (newspapers, magazines, websites). They often come up with their own conclusion which is not scientifically backed or is not displaying the correct nuance.
In other words, there is a difference between interpreting results and connecting claims.
I hope this helps!
Author: Nadine Jans MSc. Clinical and Health Psychology