STAT: :Neuroinflammation is where we’re going to find [Alzheimer’s] drugs.”

That’s what Rudolph Tanzi, a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher at MGH says about the work of Robert Moir, a member of his team.  A story in STAT last week — which ran in today’s Globe – chronicles Moir’s struggle to get funding for a theory that

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Alzheimer’s disease is a triggered by microbes in the brain.

If true, the finding would open up vastly different possibilities for therapy than the types of compounds virtually everyone else was pursuing, ” Sharon Begley writes…. 

If he and other scientists are right that beta-amyloid is an antimicrobial, that the brain goes on an amyloid-making immune rampage in response to pathogens, and that the rampage ignites neuron-killing inflammation, it suggests very different therapeutic approaches than the 30-year pursuit of amyloid destroyers.

“It used to be thought that stopping the plaques early was ‘primary prevention,’” Tanzi said. “I think primary prevention is stopping the microbes.” Treatment would mean leaving amyloid mostly alone (since it protects the brain from herpes and other viruses) but targeting inflammation, a biological fire that “kills 10 neurons for every one killed by amyloid and tau directly,” he said. “Neuroinflammation is where we’re going to find [Alzheimer’s] drugs.”

Noting the final paragraph. Not sure it applies here, but sometimes just a call from a reporter can move some wheels.  (See the Globe’s Fine Print column as an example.)

This month…(Moir) got an unheard-of email from NIH: The agency had found some extra money lying around in its budget. Would he please respond to the reviewers and resubmit his proposal? An over-the-moon Moir did. He expects to hear back in a few weeks.

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UMass doc comments on pediatricians statement re: plastic food containers

Umass doc weights in on this. Also see research from Silent Spring Institute.

AAP release here.

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NIH photo

 

From Times: “Because hormones act at low concentrations in our blood, it is not surprising that even low-level exposures to endocrine disrupters can contribute to disease,” said Laura N. Vandenberg, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s School of Public Health, who spoke on behalf of the Endocrine Society.

 

Boston events, week of 3/19/18: Will climate change kill us? Find out this week.

Ms. Marsa won’t be here this week, but there will be a lot of talk on climate change.

Monday

Noon.  “Methane: A Uniquely Difficult Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Problem.”   Robert Kleinberg.   HKS:  Bell Hall, Belfer Building.   Details.

Tuesday

1p.  “Climate Change, Air Quality, and Human Health.”   Patrick Kinney.   Harvard Global Health Institute, 42 Church St., Cambridge.   Details, RSVP.

 

6p.  “Protecting Human Health in a World Above Two Degrees: Smart Pathways toward Climate-Smart Health Systems in the Philippines.”   Renzo Guinto.   HSPH:  Kresge 439, 677 Huntington Ave.   Details.*

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Not speaking, but on topic.

7p.  “Preventing a Mad Max Future: How Green Electricity Could Fix Our Water Pollution Problem.”   Ljiljana Rajic.   WGBH’s Boston Public Library Studio, 700 Boylston St.   Details, Abstract, Registration.

Friday

1p.  “Data Science and Our Environment.”   Francesca Dominici.   Harvard:  TBA.   Details, Abstract.

*Persons interested in events in the Harvard medical area that are not explicitly public  might want to check with person cited in the details page.

March 24: Harvard — and HuffPo — offer live update of #marijuana science

You can’t buy it yet, but marijuana is now legal under state law. For the latest on weed law and science, tune in Friday for a  Harvard School of Public Health live webcast. Or, watch it via Facebook Live. 

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Send panelists questions in advance to theforum@hsph.harvard.edu

Tweet us @ForumHSPH #marijuanascience

 

Selkoe to discuss #amyloid and #Alzheimer’s in wake of another disappointing drug study

A recent story in The Atlantic asks “Is the Leading Theory About Alzheimer’s Wrong?

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1905: Research at McLean

For years, scientist have been arguing about whether amyloid protein in the brain is a cause,or just a symptom of condition.  Pharma has been confident — or desperate — enough in the science to bet on amyloid clearing drugs, but they haven’t turned out to be very good bets. So far, none has proved effective.

On Tuesday morning, one of the chief proponents of the theory, Harvard’s Dennis Selkoe, will give a talk at McLean Hospital, the storied psychiatric facility in Belmont.  Entitled  “New Insights into the Protein Biology of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases,” it takes place at 11 am in room 132 of at the hospital’s de Marneffe Building.

And, if those in audience have read the Atlantic piece — in which Selkoe is quoted — they may have questions about Merck’s recent decision to abandon test on what was once considering a promising treatment. .

 

 

After Merck’s announcement last week, one neurologist told Bloomberg that “there is mounting evidence—of which this is another piece—that removing amyloid once people have established dementia is closing the barn door after the cows have left.” An advisor to a life-sciences venture-capital firm tweeted, “I’ve been a long-term adherent of the amyloid hypothesis, but starting to feel like this”: “This” was a gif of the Black Knight from Monty Python, arms missing but still adamant he had suffered nothing worse than a flesh wound.

And well, the amyloid hypothesis is not dead yet. Large clinical trials targeting amyloid are still underway—either using new, potentially more powerful anti-amyloid drugs or trying out the previously failed drugs in patients with less advanced Alzheimer’s. These trials will likely affirm the amyloid hypothesis or kill it for good.

Tonight! Meet the #STATnews team at The Burren pub in Somerville #science

Science in the News was started by Harvard students who wanted to help explain complex issues to the public. The group has expanded beyond that to events like:

Tonight! Science by the Pint with The STAT Team

The (sometimes messy) science of communicating sciencesbtp_spring2017_1pg

Monday, January 9, 6:30-8:30pm at The Burren (247 Elm Street, Somerville) (directions)

Are you interested in learning more about what the field of science journalism looks like from the inside? Panelists from the Boston-based publication STAT will discuss what led them to a career in health and science journalism, as well as the challenges and value of investigating and reporting in this field. Small group discussions will follow the panel, so you’ll have a chance to ask questions and bring up topics you want to discuss. Members of the panel will represent a broad range of careers within science journalism, including reporting, editing, social media, marketing, multimedia, and graphic design.

About STAT (from statnews.com): STAT is a new national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. We produce daily news, investigative articles, and narrative projects in addition to multimedia features. We tell our stories from the places that matter to our readers – research labs, hospitals, executive suites, and political campaigns.

 

Health Leaders: #Lacks family members now have a say in #Henrietta’s immortal scientific legacy

My report from Health Leaders on a recent talk by members of Henrietta Lacks’ famfile_000-4ily.

The ongoing story of the late Henrietta Lacks, the African-American
woman who unwittingly provided cells for years of medical research, has much to offer those battling disparities
in healthcare, according to family members who spoke in Boston last week.

That message, delivered at a panel discussion, came from Lacks’ grandson David Lacks, Jr. and her great granddaughter Victoria Baptiste, RN, as well as Joseph Betancourt, MD, director of the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.