May 19, 2022
Bats About Alzheimer’s?
Recent research using a machine-learning algorithm that decodes speech revealed that bats spend a surprising amount of time — the majority of their time communicating with each other — arguing! Not talking about how pleasant the weather is, or how much fun it is to fly, or how cool it is to have sonar, or how delicious bugs taste, or even suggesting a bat-date in the bat-cave — arguing!
The Alzheimer’s field is a bit like being in a bat colony — not only because everything is upside down (“There is nothing that will prevent, reverse, or delay Alzheimer’s disease” … “Don’t bother to check your genetic status because there is nothing you can do about it” … “Don’t worry, your cognitive changes are just normal aging” … “The drugs don’t work but they’re the best we have to offer” … and so forth, ad nauseam … ), but also because there is far too much arguing and far too little helping. Alzheimer’s disease will take the lives of nearly 50 times the number who have died of COVID-19, so it dwarfs the pandemic, unfortunately, and yet we have an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the global burden of dementia, both through active prevention and reversal of cognitive decline.
We understand the underlying drivers of cognitive decline like never before — from insulin resistance to metabolic syndrome to nocturnal hypoxemia to chronic infections to toxin exposure, and on and on — and we have the ability to identify and counter virtually every one. For the first time, we have the ability to make Alzheimer’s optional, if everyone would get on prevention or early treatment. And even for those in late stages, we can mitigate many of the symptoms, and ensure that all subsequent generations can avoid cognitive decline.
Because of new tests, helpful wearables, new insights, and new treatment approaches, this is an exciting time — blood tests for Alzheimer’s are now available, and better ones are on the way; epigenetics offers us an unprecedented view into brain aging and disease; we can follow many critical physiological parameters with wearables, from our glucose status to heart rate variability (a good measure of stress) to sleep stages to oxygen saturation to fitness (using VO2max) to ketone level, and many more, all simply and all providing warning signals for cognitive decline to us exactly when we need them — not after we have Alzheimer’s disease, but decades ahead of time, allowing effective and widespread prevention. Now we truly have what we need to make Alzheimer’s a rare disease.
And we should all be focused on that critical goal, but there is ongoing bickering, continued skepticism despite many published successes, anger over Medicare’s appropriate decision not to pay billions for an unproven drug, claims of fraud in drug development, nasty comments on social media, and focus on everything except best outcomes!
Focusing on arguing instead of helping the many people in need, the many people at risk for cognitive decline or suffering from cognitive decline, is a sure sign that these griping groups have bats in their belfries!