By Dale Bredesen, M.D., Chief Science Officer for Apollo Health

At the time of our second COVID-19 pandemic Thanksgiving, we are in many respects better off than we were during the first COVID-19 pandemic Thanksgiving last year: vaccines are widely available, antibodies are available, more effective antivirals are in development, and the mortality rate from COVID-19 has declined, variants notwithstanding. Although the pandemic is far from over, we have much for which to be thankful:

Cortexyme’s recent clinical trial failure led to a reduction of its stock price by “only” 70% (!), so hopefully there will be enough funds remaining to do a more focused follow-up trial. Atuzaginstat, Cortexyme’s gingipain inhibitor (an inhibitor of the protease from P. gingivalis, a bacterium associated with periodontitis), failed to improve cognition or stabilize cognition, but in patients who had P. gingivalis in their oral microbiome, atuzaginstat slowed decline by about 50%, so it shows promise in one group of patients, especially as part of an overall protocol.

Aduhelm, which was approved by the FDA on June 7, causes brain swelling in 40% of patients, and was associated with death in one patient, but thankfully only one so far. The FDA, which approved Aduhelm for use in all stages of Alzheimer’s and pre-Alzheimer’s despite the fact that the trials were limited to mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s, has since amended its approval, limiting it to those with mild cognitive impairment and early Alzheimer’s. This should reduce the overall morbidity and mortality from the drug, and for that I am thankful.

A key ruling in the opioid epidemic was handed down by the California Superior Court, which explained that “there is no evidence supporting a causal connection” between the deceptive marketing and the medically inappropriate prescriptions for opioids! No evidence?! For all of us following the opioid scandal, we can be thankful for that bit of holiday mirth and absurdity.

And as if these reasons to be thankful weren’t enough, emails have just been released showing that Johnson & Johnson fended off a cancer warning on its talc-based powder by hiring its own, biased scientists to write the safety report (which was actually accepted by the FDA!), leading to 39,000 legal suits from cancer patients and their families. I am thankful that such obvious gaffes are coming to light, so that, in the future, less biased and more appropriate decisions may become the norm.

OK, enough of the “left-handed thankfulness” about the pharmaceutical industry! I am truly thankful for so much — for Marama, the first assisted living center using the ReCODE protocol, offering hope and documented improvement to its residents; for the fantastic team of experts we have here at Apollo Health; and for every single person who is working with their physician or health coach or nutritionist to restore cognitive health — your diligence and courage are providing hope for generations to come.

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