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New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood (newatlas.com)
100 points by howard941 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

... in mice.

So if you're a mouse of old age and fear alzheimers you can be happy, it's as good as cured. If you're a human however this likely has little meaning for you.

What a time to be a mouse.

This comment can be found on all hn threads about medicine. Maybe we need better models for testing? e.g. remove 14 day limit for testing on embryos, genetically edit mice to make them more like humans or make very small and short lived chimpanzees.

It can be found on all HN threads about medicine where the only evidence is found in mice studies.

Your proposed changes in testing are either impractical ("genetically edit mice") to do in a way that actually translates well (and that also translates in a nonspecific way) or very, very unethical (later embryo testing, earlier testing on animals which are sapient).

The scary part for me isn't whether it works- either it does, or doesn't- but how long it's effective before some part of the brain adapts to it. Imagine it gets widely marketed, millions of people taking it, then we all learn that after 3 years it's "Flowers for Algernon".

I remember reading an article years ago (I want to say in the New Yorker in the late 90s?) that made something like this point and kinda alarmed me. It pointed out that a second generation of anti-depressants (SSRIs like Prozac) had emerged and been aggressively marketed just as patents were expiring on the first generation (Lithium?) and some troubling long-term effects with those earlier drugs were becoming apparent. It questioned the long-term effects of this new generation of pharmaceuticals. (Or even shorter-term effects whose data had not yet been fully collected and analyzed.)

I have tried periodically to relocate this article but have not yet been able to find it. It's probably old enough now that one could even evaluate the validity of its forebodings.

Lithium is a mood stabilizer, and greatly predates modern psychiatric intervention. I believe that the earlier generations you’re thinking of are tricyclics and MAOI’s (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors). Both are still used, but are no longer the first pharmaceuticals of choice.

I wonder if it will be an addictive medication, as it is based on benzodiazepines which are quite known to have severe withdrawal effects and causing tolerance quite fast.

> But of course big pharma can't make any money from these...

I hate to break this to you, but big pharma is making lots of money from omega 3 pills.

There was a documentary where eating quality small, oily fish were order(s)-of-magnitude more effective than fish oil pills. Furthermore, fish oil pills can often go rancid and instead contain more omega-6 than omega-3.

IIRC it was Frontline's "The Fish on My Plate" but it might've been another doc

Is that big pharma or the smaller generic manufacturers? I genuinely don’t know.

The supplement industry in the US is around $122b/yr, whereas the pharmaceutical industry in the US is around $510b/yr.

Not sure if some of big pharma has a stake in the dietary supplement industry, maybe the original commenter could provide a link?

> But of course big pharma can't make any money from these...

Also lazy people (like me) can't make much use of these, because effect/effort ratio is not very good.

i really worry about what we're doing to the ecology of the ocean with all these fish oil supplements.

in my country they're now also selling "red krill oil" which sound horrendously inefficient.

To address your concern, here is a guide to vegan Omega 3 supplements -- from PETA (including, for example, walnuts): https://www.peta.org/living/food/vegan-recipes-packed-with-o...

Fish get their Omega 3s from algae; people can get Omega 3s directly from algae as well; see: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/other-supplement... "Derived from various types of micro-algae, algal oil is gaining popularity among vegans and other people who want a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) but don’t want to get them from fish or fish-oil supplements. But it’s also gaining buzz because it’s a more sustainable alternative to deriving oil from fish (due to declines in certain fish populations) and doesn’t pose the risk of contamination with pollutants, such as PCBs, that are found to some degree in many fatty fish."

If anyone wants to know what this might feel like, get on a gaba blocker. Then get off of it. Notice the difference. GABA is important stuff in your brain.

Note: I don’t actually recommend doing this. GABA blockers can fuck you up.

> GABA blockers can fuck you up.

Drugs of this class are used to induce seizures in studies. They can kill you.

I can’t tell from the jargon ... does this drug increase GABA in the brain or decrease GABA in the brain? How does it compare to for example the drug pregabalin?

From the few details they included, I think it's likely more complex than a typical GABA analog, so the effects may not be as simple as raising or lowering GABA.

This is pretty much a pharmaceutical company's dream: it hits a segment with more disposable income and apparently will require sustained usage.

On the other hand, miracle drugs for dementia and senile decline are announced every ten minutes and I've just started tuning them out. Everything falls flat on human trials. We're stuck with what we have.

Metformin and rapamycin look promising.

Someone recommended Metformin on HN, and I’ve been taking the recommended maintenance dose without issue for a few months. Can’t tell how well it works though for aging, as it’s binary (still alive be dead).

I do notice I have lower blood sugar levels, which helps me keep weight off with less diet strictness and exercise.

Just sayin...did you talk to a doc or is that harmless for side effects?

Worst side effects are similar to a bad batch of Taco Bell.

No, did not talk to a doctor. I’m a responsible adult and did my research.

Then how did you get an Rx?

Internet order from outside the US.

If you can get a prescription, it's dirt cheap.

I don’t have a PCP, and am not willing to exert the effort finding one who is onboard with my aggressive approach to self-directed healthcare.

Use Zocdoc to find a local PCP with lots of availability. The ones with lots of availability are more likely to prescribe whatever the patient wants and needs.

Metformin requires a prescription to purchase in the United States. I'm sure there are ways to get it without, but the legal option sort of requires you to go to a doctor.

Yep. This isn't worth paying attention to (for a broad audience) until it works in humans. We've cured every brain decease 10 times over in mice models; they don't tend to translate. It's interesting and I hope scientists continue to explore novel cures to brain diseases, but personally, I think we could do with less of this kind of purely speculative news.

Great. I’ll buy some for my old, senile mouse. Maybe.

You got downvoted for snark but it is quite important to draw attention to the fact that mouse results seldom map straight onto humans. This is particularly true for aging drugs since mice are shorter lived anyway and their aging is faster and different.

Sorry if it came across as pure snark; my real point was that there’s a huge difference between a single study on mice that doesn’t seem to have been reproduced yet and a drug that is proven to rapidly repair age-related memory loss and improves mood in people.

I've wondered recently how much the reverse is true.

Can we reliably determine that a product is safe for humans by testing it on animals, or is that also a fallacy?

No, we cannot - at least not reliably. That's why, with a few exceptions like chemo drugs, clinical trials start by giving separate groups of healthy patients increasing doses of the drug until 50% of a test group can no longer tolerate the side effects, to establish a maximum dose for the rest of the trials. Deaths in these Phase 1 trials are not exactly an every day occurrence but it's enough of a risk that this phase is most often done under total medical supervision (i.e. the patients don't go home until their role in the trial is over). This is also the phase where doctors begin to collect data about the pharmacology of the drug, which is used to compare the animal models against in vivo to figure out how the effects diverge.

Generally we don't test products on humans if they kill animals first.

We've likely missed cures or treatments with this method to, there are lots of nutritious foods that are effectively poison to some animals. New (unnatural) compounds and chemicals would very likely be even more varied in their effects.

I think this is a well known downside. The upside is we kill fewer humans, and I think IRBs are very comfortable with that tradeoff.

Not sure this is a valid argument; An unknown number of deaths[a] caused by possibly not developing a treatment, vs an unknown number of deaths[b] caused by possibly developing a treatment.

Where as deaths[b] could be, in theory, a controlled and limited number of willing participants, deaths[a] could, in theory, be millions of disease victims.

a is not fewer than b.

Utilitarianism doesn't change the fact that it would be immoral to randomly kill a bunch of people for questionable gain, in a pharmaceutical setting.

How many of those "willing participants" should be referred to a psychiatrist for suicidal tendencies, or are desperate people being exploited by the pharmaceutical industry.

>Utilitarianism doesn't change the fact that it would be immoral to randomly kill a bunch of people for questionable gain, in a pharmaceutical setting.

Actually loeg made the Utilitarianism argument 'well known downside[let sick people die]. The upside is we kill fewer humans' my disagreement was limited to the use of the word fewer.

>How many of those "willing participants" [are willing]

Good point. The best reasoning would be [for the test subjects] that in their current financial situation it makes sense to take this chance.. If this is immoral then we should be questioning every dangerous job out there. i don't know, maybe we should be.

I feel like a lot of animal testing is worthless; And i get the impression its done to prove to the wrong people(CEOs Shareholders media) that we value human life. The point here is that it might very well cost human life, and not a small amount at that.

> If this is immoral then we should be questioning every dangerous job out there.

Precisely, and for the same reasons.

> I feel like a lot of animal testing is worthless; And i get the impression its done to prove to the wrong people(CEOs Shareholders media) that we value human life.

I don't know enough about pharmaceutical testing, but I do feel the animal testing phases are a bureacratic requirement.

As I'm not mistaken, when creating the Ebola vaccine is the last few years, many steps were skipped and large scale human testing happened very fast.

I would be very interested in any study results on snarkly downvoting.

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