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

“But the Emperor has nothing on at all!” said the child in the famous Hans Christian Andersen tale. Now we have all been treated to a modern version of this classic, presented by 60 Minutes: a neurosurgeon who uses focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier transiently used this approach to treat a few Alzheimer’s patients with the anti-amyloid antibody aducanumab — BUT DID NOT REPORT ANY COGNITIVE BENEFIT! Not short-term, not long-term — nothing!

So, while the reporter oohed and aahed effusively over the pretty brain images, and millions watching TV nodded in agreement (and many have even asked for the same treatment!!) —  an innocent child watching exclaimed the obvious — “But it didn’t help anyone!” And another child asked quizzically, “But Mother and Father, isn’t the goal of Alzheimer’s treatment to improve cognition? Preferably to sustain the improvement for years? To enhance memory, executive function, processing speed, terminate agnosias and apraxias, and support optimal cognition?” While other youngsters cocked their heads bemusedly and said, “Without cognitive impact data, we cannot see the threads of a therapeutic approach.” Sadly, the only yarn in the therapeutic finery presented was the one spun by 60 Minutes.

After decades of nothing to offer, it’s easy to be blinded by a fancy new treatment that seemingly offers “remarkable” results. But don’t be taken in by this foolishness — a real treatment for Alzheimer’s must do one thing — improve cognition. There is as yet no evidence that this one does, and it may even cause harm. CBS, do your homework before offering false hope to millions who are suffering.

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