Queensland scientists have found a way to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Well, they have found something that works for a short term in mice, but headlines never care about such details. That’s why there are so many medical breakthroughs announced and you never hear about them again, because reality was different from the lab situation. The reality of medical research is, that is costs trillions of dollars a year and the results are pathetic.
There is another minor problem with scientific research on Alzheimer’s disease: the scientists have no clue what they are doing. Some years ago (sorry, I always forget numbers) a study was done with the help of a number of nuns. These nuns had volunteered to keep a diary and after they died their brains could be examined for research. It appeared that many of these nuns had brains that were full of the “typical Alzheimer’s holes”, but in life they hadn’t had any cognitive problems at all! So whatever the brain scans mean, the holes are not “typical” for dementia. Many older people might have these holes on the scans, but don’t suffer from Alzheimer’s and so they just don’t know. Probably it has nothing to do with each other. Or maybe it does, but then it’s completely unclear how or what. “In Alzheimer’s sufferers, a plaque of the toxic protein amyloid beta builds up within the blood-brain barrier” is nothing but an unproven theory. And if you build research on an unproven theory you get fiction.
Reality is that scientists know very little about the brain. They pretend to know a lot, but it’s all theories without any proof. They can put a patient into a scanner and look at colourful pictures, but what those colours mean exactly is just a matter of wild guesses.
There is one fact: Alzheimer’s disease was first described in 1901, which means that before that it was very rare or non-exixtent. This is just another degenerative disease that is related to environment and lifestyle. Find the cause of the disease in the changes we have seen during the last 100 years and the problem can easily be prevented and possibly cured. But that would be way too easy. Within a few years you could find the causes of most chronic and degenerative diseases. Take a few more years to sort out the problems and those trillions of dollars could be used for better purposes, like feeding the hungry. But that would no doubt be bad for our economy, so this kind of useless research keeps going. And we will keep reading about medical breakthroughs that will never lead to anything.