I’m not sure why, but for some reason as I reviewed these two articles, I was reminded of a book I read when I was a teenager called Flowers for Algeron. Maybe it was all the talk about experiments on laboratory mice and the way success may not necessarily translate to humans. In Daniel Keye’s book, the story is a series of journal entries written by Charlie, a man with an IQ of 68, who has the same experimental surgery that improved the intelligence of the laboratory mouse, Algernon. After the surgery, Charlie’s IQ skyrockets to genius level. The surgery on Charlie and Algernon has the complete appearance of success—that is until Algernon begins to decline mentally and dies. Charlie’s decline is as sure as Algernon’s, but he requests flowers be placed on Algernon’s grave.
Just like in Algernon, success in mice doesn’t necessarily mean success in humans, but it is a start. By attacking the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, these two scientific studies show new approaches to stopping Alzheimer’s in its tracks. Science moves slowly and it will be many more years before this discovery will translate to an effective treatment for the 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s. The goal set during review of the National Alzheimer's Plan is to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.Although thirteen years seems like a long time, it would be worth the wait if we can place flowers on the grave of Alzheimer’s—not on the graves of those who die from the disease.
Copyright © February 2012 by L. S. Fisher