Crumb Trail
     an impermanent travelogue
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Good News!

Using tests conducted with transgenic mouse models of AD, the investigators have demonstrated that bone marrow-derived microglia infiltrate amyloid plaques and succeed in destroying them most efficiently. These newly-recruited immune cells are specifically attracted by the amyloid proteins that are the most toxic to nerve cells. . .

According to Dr. Rivest, anti-inflammatory drugs should not be administered in cases of Alzheimer's disease, as they interfere with this natural defence mechanism. On the contrary, he adds, a way must be found to stimulate the recruitment of a greater number of bone marrow-derived microglia. . .

Dr. Serge Rivest's team also had recourse to genetic engineering, in order to manufacture microglia that can anchor themselves more solidly to plaques and that are equipped with enzymes with more efficient plaque-destroying capability.

"Stem cells should be harvested from the patients themselves, thus limiting the risks of both rejection and adverse effects," says Dr. Rivest. "While this cellular therapy will not prevent Alzheimer's, by curbing plaque development, we believe that it will help patients prolong their autonomy and cognitive capacity. We believe that this is new and powerful weapon in the fight to conquer Alzheimer's."

Don, a friend's father, has AD. His memory is stuck in his youth, the WWII years. He can, and will, talk your ears off about those days and spends his days listening to really good swing music such as he loved in those days. He was a pilot in the war and has good stories. That and the music make him fun to be with for a while so long as I don't get too squicked out about the fact that he thinks that we just met or that I have never heard those stories before, and that he can't remember my name. He knows something is wrong, but he can't put his finger on what it is. Telling him doesn't help, it doesn't stick. His elder son became a pilot too, and retired after 20 years to Australia where he is a semi-geeky computer hacker. The younger son was a semi-pro baseball player and now a small beer cattle rancher.

Old Macintosh, the fellow that used to run a small feedlot in Frazier valley not too far from here, has it too. His stories are all about the feed business back in the day, and his patent methods for making money in the biz. He talks your ears off too but the stories are about mean spirited money grubbing, ways to swindle other people and "double your money". He says that after a pause, with great gravity, as if it was a profound truth. His son runs a "home finance" company, one of those outfits that charges 25% interest on loans to dirt poor people who happen to have an asset, such as a home, that can be seized if they default.

It's just anecdotes, but it seems to me that AD exposes you mind in ways you would never dream of revealing to all and sundry. Sometimes this is harmless enough, such as Don's joy in his youthful adventures and the wonderful sound track that accompanied his exploits, and sometimes it illuminates dark things that we know exist but prefer not to look at or think about too much.

posted by back40 | 2/16/2006 08:37:00 PM


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