The medical news is abuzz with allegations of falsified research, potentially throwing much of what scientists believed they knew about Alzheimer’s disease into doubt. But all is not lost, as research receives a much-needed cash injection, and new studies have been revealed.
Manipulated Photographs Jeopardizing Years of Research
Jack Miletic of Delray Beach says that it has come to light in recent weeks that photographs used in a 2006 study of proteins that are thought to be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease had been manipulated at the time of their publication.
While it is not clear exactly how the images were altered, reports suggest that at least 50% of the images have been digitally manipulated, which could mean falsified research. While the manipulation of scientific results is already an unacceptable practice, the images were those used in a study which has been widely distributed, held to acclaim, and used as a benchmark for further research.
While some scientists are devastated at this blow, others have sought to reassure fellow professionals and the public alike that the field of Alzheimer’s research extends far beyond apparent discoveries linked to just one protein.
Abandoning Lab Mice in Favor of Primates
While the lab mouse has for decades been used as a live animal on which to perform research, recent studies have revealed that they are no longer considered suitable for Alzheimer’s testing.
Primate DNA, life span, and even cognitive ability is much closer to that of humans. Along with the fact that mice do not naturally contract Alzheimer’s disease, all signs point to using non-human primates in further research into the disease.
Whether mice continued to be used in such or similar studies or whether primates will replace them, the very subject of animal testing remains a highly contentious issue.
Center on Aging Secure Vital Grant
A project led by the team at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has secured a grant of over $20 million from the National Institute on Aging, primarily to focus on promising research concerning cells called astrocytes.
These many-faceted cells deliver oxygen and sustenance to neurons and could be enhanced to restore this neural energy where it has otherwise been decimated by Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s remains mostly unresponsive to drug treatments, as well as being a disease whose cause is relatively difficult to pinpoint, so it remains at the forefront of the National Institute on Aging’s projects.
The welcomed funds are perfectly timed to allow researchers more time to follow what looks to be promising lines of scientific enquiry.
Black Communities Encouraged to Participate in Alzheimer’s Research
Despite government figures revealing how Black Americans are around twice as likely to develop dementia, they are 35% less likely to be diagnosed, due to reluctance to enter medical trials.
African American hesitancy to participate in research stems from years of institutionalized racism in medical testing, including a 40-year project in Alabama which ended in the 1970s, during which time hundreds of black men were injected with syphilis.
Universities in Alabama are now making an active effort to encourage more African Americans into modern clinical trials for Alzheimer’s, to try and stem the tide of dementia in the community.