Findings

Science  31 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6098, pp. 1026
  1. Silver Lining in Alzheimer's Trial?

    Brain scans of people with a genetic mutation that causes early onset Alzheimer's disease.

    CREDIT: BENZINGER AND T. BLAZEY/WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

    Alzheimer's researchers are used to getting bad news from clinical trials, as one promising drug after another has failed to slow cognitive declines. In that context, Eli Lilly and Company's announcement on 24 August regarding solanezumab—an antibody that targets β amyloid, the protein fragment that forms pathological clumps in the brains of patients—actually looks somewhat encouraging.

    Solanezumab failed to slow cognitive decline in two trials with more than 2000 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. However, the company said in a statement, a secondary analysis that combined data from both trials indicated that the drug did slow cognitive decline in people with mild Alzheimer's disease. Lilly says its plans for solanezumab are still undecided, but it plans to continue an open-label extension study, in which patients from the two recently completed trials can continue to take the drug.

    Pharmaceutical companies have invested heavily in anti-amyloid therapies, with largely disappointing results in clinical trials. But because amyloid begins accumulating in the brain decades before memory loss and other symptoms appear, many researchers believe trials have failed because the drugs were given to patients whose disease was already too advanced. http://scim.ag/alztrial

  2. Hungry Monkeys Don't Live Longer

    Two 27-year-old male rhesus monkeys. Left: calorie-restricted. Right: control.

    CREDIT: HOUSING FOR PHOTO PURPOSES ONLY. PHOTO COURTESY OF NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING/NIH

    Eating between 10% and 40% less than normal—what's called calorie restriction—extends life for a range of animals, including mice and nematodes. But testing whether slashing food intake stretches human life span is impractical—so for more than 20 years, rhesus monkeys at two U.S. facilities have been living on lean rations in the name of science. This week in Nature, researchers report that the monkeys at the National Institutes of Health Animal Center in Dickerson, Maryland, did reap some benefits, such as reduced triglycerides in the blood and a lower cancer rate. But dieting animals aren't living longer than monkeys that ate more.

    However, 3 years ago, researchers revealed in Science (10 July 2009, p. 201) that the other group of hungry monkeys—at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center in Madison—did live longer on their reduced diets. The exact reason for the discrepancy isn't clear, as the two groups of monkeys differ in several ways, including the composition of their diet.

    http://scim.ag/monkey_cal

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