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Biotech Medicine

Experimental Drug Targeting Alzheimer's Disease Shows Anti-Aging Effects (nextbigfuture.com) 101

schwit1 writes with news that researchers at the Salk Institute have found that an experimental drug candidate aimed at combating Alzheimer's disease has a host of unexpected anti-aging effects in animals. Says the article: The Salk team expanded upon their previous development of a drug candidate, called J147, which takes a different tack by targeting Alzheimer's major risk factor–old age. In the new work, the team showed that the drug candidate worked well in a mouse model of aging not typically used in Alzheimer's research. When these mice were treated with J147, they had better memory and cognition, healthier blood vessels in the brain and other improved physiological features.

"Initially, the impetus was to test this drug in a novel animal model that was more similar to 99 percent of Alzheimer's cases," says Antonio Currais, the lead author and a member of Professor David Schubert's Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at Salk. "We did not predict we'd see this sort of anti-aging effect, but J147 made old mice look like they were young, based upon a number of physiological parameters."

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Experimental Drug Targeting Alzheimer's Disease Shows Anti-Aging Effects

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've seen the documentaries. This can only lead to one thing.

    The zombie apocalypse.

    • Don't worry, there are plenty of alternative dystopias for that technology.
  • by BenBoy ( 615230 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @11:20PM (#50937517)
    Worth looking at the actual article, especially the before and after pic they've included ...
    • It's actually after and before, from left to right.
    • Worth looking at the actual article, especially the before and after pic they've included ...

      I wouldn't be so quick to trumpet 'anti-aging effects', the after-guy looks 30 years older !! ^_^

  • I saw this movie.... it doesnt end well!
  • by yerfdogyrag ( 4334095 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @11:42PM (#50937583)
    I can't wait for them to try this on Humans! Any idea why they named several of the mice 'Algernon'?
    • Re:This is Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @07:01AM (#50938561) Journal

      I can't wait for them to try this on Humans!

      Note that the anti-ageing effects were seen in a strain of mutated mice that "exhibit rapid ageing". It may turn out that the drug's effects are specific for the pathway affected by the mouse line's particular genetic fault, rather than against ageing in general.

      But even if that's the case, I expect it would retard SOME aspects of age-related debilitation in normal mice and in humans. I await the results of the upcoming human trials.

    • Apparently the ones they named "Pinky" and "Brain" seem to be up to something at night, but the researchers can never figure out quite what....
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not saying this is true, but just imagine if it was. What would pharmaceutical companies charge for something like this? Who gets access to what will at first be a limited supply? What are the social implications? It boggles the mind.

    • It's an herbal extract. Monopolistic control of the supply would be very difficult.
    • Re:Problems (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Monday November 16, 2015 @12:37AM (#50937715) Homepage Journal

      What would pharmaceutical companies charge for something like this?

      If you can't afford it, just keep walking — you aren't any worse off than before.

      What are the social implications?

      Rich people begin to live (much) longer — CEOs, Senators, judges, and generals alike do not retire restricting career-growths of their underlings. Similar effects in families, with (grand)children never seeing the inheritance. Official retirement age raised (very) high.

      A movement springs up denouncing the procedure as somehow unethical — while the Bible's long-living characters suddenly seem less implausible.

      A separate movement springs up to demand "free" dosage for everyone — told, there is not enough for all, they demand none get it and proceed to destroy what little stock there is. Fortunately, a break-through — its development funded by the cash windfall from the millionaire "early adopters" — allows to produce enough of the stuff to add it to water supply (in developed countries).

      Secret e-mails with government-officials discussing these very predictions and considerations are leaked and discussed by the media as awesome forethought by some and evil conspiracy by others.

      Yet another movement begins to claim suffering from allergic and other mysterious-yet-painful reactions to the stuff and try to avoid it.

      Something like that... Oh, and, of course, PROFIT!

    • I'm not saying this is true, but just imagine if it was.

      We already have life extension technology. It is called "a healthy diet and exercise". Surprisingly, there is little demand for it.

    • If a real "fountain of youth" drug were developed, unless it were sold fairly cheaply (or at least at a reasonable cost), it would probably be copied. The only reason we have a limited supply right now of various drugs is because of patent law. That doesn't keep pharma companies in places like India from manufacturing their own, they just ignore US IP laws. And we don't get that stuff over here because it isn't lucrative to import some, say, anti-AIDS drug and sell it on the black market here. There's l

  • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @11:56PM (#50937621) Journal
    End of life care is expensive and ineffectual because it is targeting the symptoms of the problem, not the underlying problem, which is age. Eventually, the technology will be at the point that it will just make more economic sense to have people preemptively reduce aging instead of going to the doctor for an age related illness.

    Yes, people will have to work longer but you will not work yourself to death to save up for retirement (just for the occasional break). There are plenty of problems in the world, so having more able people to address those problems is probably a good thing. Also, people will put off having kids longer and everyone is going to start to care a lot more about the "longterm" of things. Seems like a positive direction for humanity. . .
    • there will also be the unintended consequences of living longer (forever?)

      some argue that the world has to many people on it now, what happens when new people keep being born but old ones dont die?
      • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @12:56AM (#50937773) Journal
        There has actually been a lot of thought put into that. Here is one example [thatsreallypossible.com].

        A short explanation is to point out the well documented fact that people have fewer kids and tend to have kids later in life the longer they live. Consequently, a cheap pill that allows people to live hundreds of years would cause an immediate effect of a DECREASE in the number of kids born, and would POSTPONE a lot of births that would have otherwise have had happened sooner. So the birthrate would decrease GREATLY over this initial period, while other causes of deaths would continue. As a result, over the "short term" (probably centuries, to immortals) you probably would see a population DECREASE, as a result.

        Eventually, though, people will reach some equilibrium of having kids, so the initial period before this is crucial. Basically, we will have an army of well educated, experienced, and healthy people to tackle some key technologies (e.g. space elevators, etc. . .). After the initial period (again, probably centuries long), we send armies of people to settle the rest of solar system, or make a Dyson sphere, or whatever else help ensure the continuation of the species.

        Just because we have learned to live with death does not mean death is some kind crucial component to ensure the continuation of our species. In fact, it is the exact opposite. . .
        • I doubt Haitians would fit your model.

          • by Idou ( 572394 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @02:45AM (#50937981) Journal
            Why not? If 50 million tired and aching U.S. senior citizens were turned healthy and energetic, why could they not help bring entire nations up from poverty? Ending aging would dramatically increase the manpower and working knowledge that could in turn be used to address the problems of the world.

            Besides, I am sure there was much more poverty when people were living to just be 40 years old. . . it seems that living longer gives you more time to claw your way out of poverty.
        • make a Dyson sphere, or whatever else help ensure the continuation of the species.

          ONE Dyson sphere is not enough. We still need redundancy, But there is only room for one per star. We need interstellar travel.

    • The question is whether the mice actually lived longer. The article doesn't answer that question.
      • by Idou ( 572394 )
        Seems easy enough to set up an experiment to address this.

        However, I do want to add that seeing significant anti-aging effects but no extension of life expectancy would seem to imply that aging is programmed. There is growing evidence that aging is not programmed [nih.gov], though. Instead, aging seems to be the result of wear and tear on a very complicated system, so that reducing wear and tear should extend the life of the system.
        • That article is really interesting. Unfortunately it is difficult to understand.

          How do they explain problems like the natural decline all athletes face around age 40?
          • by Idou ( 572394 )
            My offer of an explanation is that we only have recently started living past that age [uoregon.edu].

            Evolution's only driver for maximum age is how long it takes you to have kids and get them old enough to live without needing you anymore. Accordingly, modern technology (like sanitation) has allowed us to roughly double that max age and there is no reason to assume that it will stop there.
    • Also, people will put off having kids longer and everyone is going to start to care a lot more about the "longterm" of things. Seems like a positive direction for humanity. . .

      Not obviously so. It also means that old ideas will hang around for a lot longer because people who are mentally stuck in their ways will take even longer to die off.

      • by Idou ( 572394 )

        people who are mentally stuck in their ways will take even longer to die off.

        Seems like you are assuming that "being stuck in your ways" has nothing to do with the aging of the brain when it probably has a lot to do with declining function as the brain gets older and diminishing returns of taking risks when one reaches the end of one's life.

        Besides, "waiting for them to die off" does not seem like a very sophisticated approach to dealing with our social problems. . .

    • Yes, people will have to work longer but you will not work yourself to death to save up for retirement (just for the occasional break). There are plenty of problems in the world, so having more able people to address those problems is probably a good thing.

      I assume you've never seen Soylent Green! The world is over populated as is

      • by Idou ( 572394 )
        I have seen that movie multiple times, along with every other dystopian movie ever created worth watching. However, technological improvement appears to be exponential, so you really need to look at shorter periods of history to get an idea of where things are trending.

        For instance, the last 5 ~ 10 years has resulted in some technological breakthroughs [energy.gov] that should greatly change the traditional views of overpopulation. We are increasingly doing more with less, such that the concept of "over population" i
        • Don't be so proud of this technological terror that you've created.

          We may be 'doing more with less' but we're doing a hell of a lot more. To the point where we are clobbering the planet's capacity to maintain some sort of homeostasis. Like the homeostasis needed to feed all of the happy little fruits and vegetables you seem to think would be a good idea.

          A planet isn't a farm. We know just enough about ecology to know we don't know jack shit about it.

          • by Idou ( 572394 )
            I certainly doubt that I or anyone else alive today can take credit for this "technological terror," as the vast majority of us are alive as a direct result of said technology. Though I suppose we could take credit for the incremental progress we have contributed . . . .

            You are more than welcome to reduce the impact on the Earth by 1 human being and only 1. The rest of us will push on to drive humanity from being a mere occupant to becoming a caretaker of this precious planet. This will be accomplished b
  • by Daniel Matthews ( 4112743 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @12:50AM (#50937749)
    This drug is just a synthetic curcumin (turmeric) derivative and the statistics show that the natural substance does protect Indians, who eat a lot of it. (Old news.)
  • From the published paper:

    Salk has an issued patent on J147 licensed to Abrexa Pharmaceuticals.

    It will be interesting to see if this makes its way through the labyrinth of FDA testing within the next 40 years.

    • by pepty ( 1976012 )
      Drugs have to treat a disease to get approved, and aging isn't considered a disease. But if it is proven to treat memory loss or cardiovascular conditions it could get breakthrough status and sail through ASAP.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2015 @02:17AM (#50937921)

    Apparently it is the mice that are running the planet and they got us trained to solve their health problems.

  • Rather than target amyloid, the lab decided to zero in on the major risk factor for the disease–old age. Using cell-based screens against old age-associated brain toxicities, they synthesized J147.

    If they're targeting "old age", why would anti-aging effects be surprising?

    Does anyone understand exactly what this drug is doing? I'm not able to parse that second sentence, possibly because my brain is too old.

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