Human Exceptionalism

Alzheimer’s Breakthorugh Treatment?

People suffering early and moderate Alzheimer’s have great reason for hope today as a new medication appears to materially impact of the disease in Stage II human trials. From the story:

Millions of Alzheimer’s sufferers have been given fresh hope after a new generation of drugs were shown to reverse the symptoms of the disease.
The treatment can bring the “worst affected parts of the brain back to life” and scientists say it is twice as effective as any medication currently available. They even suggested the drug works so well it might be given to patients in the future to prevent the onset of the illness.

The researchers say that if further tests of the drug, called rember, are successful it could be available within four to five years. “We appear to be bringing the worst affected parts of the brain functionally back to life,” said Prof Claude Wischik of Aberdeen University, who carried out the trials on 321 people with the illness.

If this pans out, it is great news on many levels. First and foremost is the amelioration on the individual level of a terrible affliction that not only destroys the patient but devastates families–as I have seen up close in the death of my uncle.

On a societal level, it could ameliorate the worry about explosive health care costs as my generation enters our senior years. This in turn, could moderate the pressure that has been building for the legalization of assisted suicide, Futile Care Theory, and more explicit methods of health care rationing.

Finally, the treatment isn’t controversial, demonstrating how so much of what is going on today in bioscience isn’t about cloning and embryonic stem cells.

Still some testing to go before it is ready for full clinical use. But can we all say, hip,hip, hooray?