test your knowledge
How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive email notifications when new articles are posted.
January 9, 2017: by Bill Sardi
Why are researchers at an obscure university in India lecturing western doctors over the misdirection of modern medicine in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease?
Investigators at little-known Bharathidasan University in Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu State, India, who labor under the motto “we will create a brave new world,” (no, not Johns Hopkins Medical School or Harvard Medical School or the Mayo Clinic in the USA) boldly cite how the red wine molecule resveratrol is superior to statin drugs in addressing the buildup of beta amyloid (cholesterol-like) plaque in the aging brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
There are over 275 reports published at the National Library of Medicine on the topic of statin cholesterol-lowering drugs and beta amyloid brain plaque. [Pubmed] The suggestion that statin cholesterol-lowering drugs may reduce beta amyloid plaque buildup in the brain has been in play for the past 15 years. [Proceedings National Academy Sciences 2001] Resveratrol’s potential in controlling beta amyloid brain plaque dates back just as far. [Free Radical Biology Medicine 2003] Neither statins nor resveratrol have entered into common use for the purpose of preventing Alzheimer’s related memory loss over that time.
Researchers at Bharathidasan University note that while statin drugs reduce the production of cholesterol in brain cells, they don’t necessarily inhibit the buildup of this plaque.
Here is an abridged version of what the Bharathidasan Unversity researchers discovered:
“Sufficient availability of cholesterol is necessary for normal neuronal (brain) function, however, several epidemiological (population) studies state that the elevated cholesterol is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Although inhibition of cellular cholesterol by statins could play a beneficial role, cholesterol depletion in neurons (brain cells) … decreases neuronal activity and nerve transmission leading to degeneration. It is maintenance of cholesterol equilibrium without affecting its normal function that is beneficial in preventing disease progression, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease. Resveratrol… as expected maintains cholesterol equilibrium.”
The primary problem with accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain is not its production, which statin drugs address, but its disposal, or efflux as biologists say it, which resveratrol does facilitate. Statins strongly reduce beta amyloid production inside cells, resveratrol facilitates its clearance and removal via its ability to chelate (bind to) copper. [Journal Biological Chemistry 2005]
Bharathisadan University researchers as newcomers to the field of Alzheimer’s research published their first report about Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. [Clin Chim Acta 2012] In 2015 they reported on the importance of the hippocampus, a component of the brain that is responsible for consolidating short and long-term memory.
They noted at the time that poor memory in aged laboratory rats is due to a defect in circuits in the hippocampus that are damaged over time. They also noted that resveratrol “culminates pathological events in the hippocampus …during aging, proving it as a potent therapeutic drug against age-associated memory loss.”[Neuroscience 2015]
Earlier this year Bharathidasan University investigators reported that while several drugs moderately reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s, none of them have sufficient potency to reverse the progression towards Alzheimer’s disease pathology. They went on to describe resveratrol has having “outstanding therapeutic effect on a broad spectrum of diseases.”
These East Indian researchers subjected laboratory rats to ibotenic acid that impairs transmission of nerve signals in the brain and interferes with learning and memory. Resveratrol blunted the deleterious effects of ibotenic acid. [Frontiers Molecular Neuroscience 2016]
According to the Alzheimers Association, none of the pharmacologic treatments (medications) available today for Alzheimer’s disease slows or stops the damage and destruction of neurons that cause Alzheimer’s symptoms and make the disease fatal. The six drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s temporarily improve symptoms by increasing the amount of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain.
In the decade 200-2012, 244 drugs for Alzheimer’s disease were tested in human clinical trials as listed by the National Institutes of Health registry. Only 1 of 244 drugs successfully completed clinical trials and went on to receive FDA approval.
While Alzheimer’s disease strikes just 4% of adults 65 years of age and under it is evident in 44% of Americans age 75-84 years of age and 37% age 85 years and older. About 8 in 10 people who have Alzheimer’s are over the age of 75.
The problem in addressing Alzheimer’s disease is that it begins before symptoms become evident. Beta amyloid plaque deposition in the brain may precede Alzheimer’s disease symptoms by 20 years. [Discovery Medicine 2013]=
According to the Alzheimer’s Association 11% of Americans age 45 and old report progressive confusion or memory loss with 76% not reporting this to a health care professional. So those who do experience symptoms are not readily identified.
Therefore, early detection by symptomology is too late to significantly affect the course of the disease. This suggests a massive preventive guess must be taken.
It was forensic investigator Jack Sprott in New Zealand who intuitively advised mothers of newborns to place their infants on their back to sleep and this practice quelled the incidence of sudden infant death. [South African Medical Journal 2006]
It is just this kind of leap that must be taken now to slow down Alzheimer’s disease before half of the population of older adults is taking care of the other half that have Alzheimer’s. Yes, that is the tragic course that lies ahead.
The family burden of Alzheimer’s is staggering as 83% of the help provided to older adult in the U.S. comes from family members and friends. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for $236 billion in healthcare costs in 2016. With 5.2 million Americans affects by Alzheimer’s, that amounts to ~$45,000 per individual per year! [Alzheimer’s Association 2016]
It was a report issued by researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical School that maligned resveratrol for having no effect on the health status or mortality risk of senior adults. But resveratrol was not employed in their study, red wine was. Even then, further analysis by this investigator found that Johns Hopkins researchers intentionally overlooked the fact that the group that drank more wine experienced 50% less mental decline over the 9-year study period. [JAMA Internal Medicine 2014; ResveratrolNews.com] — ©2017 Bill Sardi, ResveratrolNews.com