Just a few quick (lol!!) thoughts about silos and Alzheimer’s here in the land of digital cornbread.
First a couple definitions:
A silo is a tall, often reasonably skinny, cylinder-shaped structure used to store bulk materials or agriculture products. The word is derived from “Latin sirum (nominative sirus), from Greek siros “a pit to keep corn in”…and that is pretty much what they do.
An information silo is more of a metaphor for one person or a department in an organization gathering information that could be used elsewhere in the organization and not sharing it nor being responsible for the bottlenecks and duplication that it creates. Much has been written about the perils of this information hoarding, whether it be from zapped innovation, inefficiency or something simple like information dying with an employee.
So, this week, Biogen and Eisai, two of many major innovators in the neuroscience pharmaceutical world, pulled the plug on the latest attempt at an Alzheimer’s treatment meant to slow the disease. (It is worth a note that Eisai is who holds the patent on Aricept® , a minimally- effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.) Their new miracle drug’s focus: Beta-Amyloids. As a reminder, these proteins are present in the brain and are typically “washed out”, if you will, nightly when we sleep. They can form plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s, but where I wonder if the silo appears is: does being linked to the disease mean it causes the disease? Most articles you read state “most scientists” link or blame these plaques as the cause. This uniformity of thought simply doesn’t exist. This is certainly not the first failed drug in this cause either. 🙁 Time Magazine lists several in this article. They are all centered generally around this protein. Could this be a publicly-created PR silo that is causing results and the direction of the research to be skewed? Is the race to match and quickly copy/patent everyone’s “findings” causing wild goose chases? Is a rush to say that something is 100% true about the disease hurting the progress? It makes me wonder to be sure…
(Note: make many of you may like me less for this, but, this pride/arrogance in the medical scientific community reminds me of the 100% uniformity of man-made global warming/global cooling/climate change that we hear about all-day, every-day in the news despite that the fact that the jury is still out. Since when has science been so exclusive and quick to make 100% sure truth claims without adequate proof and shun differing viewpoints?)
Meanwhile, mom was ok today. I visited with her for a while with my daughter. She is very zoned out these days. She asked Lindsey “How is it in your world?”, a phrase she might have used 10 years ago to begin a long grandma/granddaughter talk. A truly sweet moment now to have something cogent among the not-so-much. The rest of the Sweet 17 were also pretty quiet and zoned out. It goes in waves there it seems, but for now mom is still ok. Yesterday she had another fall…the second in a week…but was/is seemingly fine. We had a great vacation, but I was sure happy to see her again. 🙂
Come on, researchers! Get to work. Set aside biases and agendas. Let’s defeat this stupid disease!