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Alzheimer's Snake Oil

An NIH-sponsored review of scientific literature on Alzheimer's disease has concluded that nothing currently works to prevent the disease, writes the Genomics, Evolution and Pseudoscience blog's Steven Salzberg. In its report, NIH wrote that "there is currently no evidence of even moderate scientific quality supporting the association of any modifiable factor ... with reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. The evidence surrounding risk reduction for cognitive decline is similarly limited." But that isn't preventing people from spending money needlessly on supplements, prescription and non-prescription drugs, and other remedies readily sold on the internet. Salzberg seems especially annoyed when it comes to Joseph Mercola, an osteopath who sells remedies on his Web site, including remedies for Alzheimer's. While some of Mercola's tips aren't harmful (he advises to exercise both the body and mind), others are "little more than pseudoscience," Salzberg says, particularly Mercola's advice to remove dental amalgam fillings and to avoid thimerosal-containing vaccines. Other tip function to steer people to buy Mercola's krill oil and non-aluminum cookware.

Salzberg concludes that the main risk factors for Alzheimer's are things we can't control, such as age and genetics. "If people would donate their money to Alzheimer's research rather than wasting it on ineffective treatments, maybe we'd find a cure just a little bit sooner," Salzberg says.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.