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Saturday 24 September 2022

Alzheimers As Auto-Immune Disease?

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Deception and investigation bias can cause many problems in our world, and science is not immune, in fact these problems are rampant in modern science. As The Conversation notes

"In July 2022, Science magazine reported that a key 2006 research paper, published in the prestigious journal Nature, which identified a subtype of brain protein called beta-amyloid as the cause of Alzheimer’s, may have been based on fabricated data."

You may or may not be aware of the reproducibility crisis in science. That is that many scientific papers cannot be reproduced. This problem can have real world detrimental effects, because it can cause researchers to either follow the wrong trail or ignore other genuine paths of inquiry that could help people. This is exactly what has happened with Alzheimer's: 

"Regrettably, this dedication to studying the abnormal protein clumps has not translated into a useful drug or therapy. The need for a new “out-of-the-clump” way of thinking about Alzheimer’s is emerging as a top priority in brain science.

My laboratory at the Krembil Brain Institute, part of the University Health Network in Toronto, is devising a new theory of Alzheimer’s disease. Based on our past 30 years of research, we no longer think of Alzheimer’s as primarily a disease of the brain. Rather, we believe that Alzheimer’s is principally a disorder of the immune system within the brain.

The immune system, found in every organ in the body, is a collection of cells and molecules that work in harmony to help repair injuries and protect from foreign invaders. When a person trips and falls, the immune system helps to mend the damaged tissues. When someone experiences a viral or bacterial infection, the immune system helps in the fight against these microbial invaders.

The exact same processes are present in the brain. When there is head trauma, the brain’s immune system kicks into gear to help repair. When bacteria are present in the brain, the immune system is there to fight back.

Alzheimer’s as autoimmune disease

We believe that beta-amyloid is not an abnormally produced protein, but rather is a normally occurring molecule that is part of the brain’s immune system. It is supposed to be there. When brain trauma occurs or when bacteria are present in the brain, beta-amyloid is a key contributor to the brain’s comprehensive immune response. And this is where the problem begins.

Because of striking similarities between the fat molecules that make up both the membranes of bacteria and the membranes of brain cells, beta-amyloid cannot tell the difference between invading bacteria and host brain cells, and mistakenly attacks the very brain cells it is supposed to be protecting.

This leads to a chronic, progressive loss of brain cell function, which ultimately culminates in dementia — all because our body’s immune system cannot differentiate between bacteria and brain cells."

This is an interesting theory, that is worthy of pursuing. But if it turns out to be correct, this would add dementia to the ever-increasing instances of auto immune disease that are already being observed:

"According to a new study the prevalence and incidence of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes, is on the rise and researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are unsure why...

...“With the rapid increase in autoimmune diseases, it clearly suggests that environmental factors are at play due to the significant increase in these diseases. Genes do not change in such a short period of time.”

Something about modern life is wrecking people's immune systems, turning them into auto-harm systems. What is doing this? 

I am not a doctor, but the first question I would ask is this: have we been interfering in immune systems in large numbers in artificial ways? Is it possible this is having an effect on people's built in immune systems? There is still so much that we do not know about the human body and how it works, and the immune system, as one of my Doctor friends tells me, is one of the biggest mysteries. Yet we play with it, like we know what we are doing.  

Doctors are sure that environmental effects are at play with this increase in auto immune disease. By this they do not mean climate-change. They mean something humans are doing is causing this. What is it? Why is it getting worse, and what human activities correlate to this trend? 

Is it:

- Immune manipulation (vaccines)? 
- Preservatives in diet?
- Increasing uses of anti-biotics? 
- Chemicals in pesticides?
- Reliance on more and more medications? 
- Less connection to nature?
- Large consumption of fast foods? 
- Growing levels of obesity?
- A combination of all or some of these factors? 

More can be suggested. But if doctors are not sure why, then the question I want to ask is this: Are there biases against investigating any of these things? Because if there are, this could hurt a lot of people unnecessarily. When you can't find the answer, that's usually a sign you are not looking in the right place. And the fact that biases exist about investigating particular aspects of medicine is going to cause vast problems for human flourishing. 

Occam's razor would suggest that if auto immune issues are increasing, and we are manipulating immune systems, then this is likely having side effects? Correct? It's at least worth investigating. Of course, who is going to fund this? 

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