In the 30 years that biomedical researchers have worked determinedly to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, their counterparts have developed drugs that helped cut deaths from cardiovascular disease by more than half, and cancer drugs able to eliminate tumors that had been incurable. But for Alzheimer’s, not only is there no cure, there is not even a disease-slowing treatment.

The brain, Alzheimer’s researchers patiently explain, is hard — harder than the heart, harder even than cancer. While that may be true, it is increasingly apparent that there is another, more disturbing reason for the tragic lack of progress: The most influential researchers have long believed so dogmatically in one theory of Alzheimer’s that they systematically thwarted alternative approaches. Several scientists described those who controlled the Alzheimer’s agenda as “a cabal.”

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  • Thanks Sharon for a timely article and thanks for interviewing me. But the biggest problem with addressing “Alzheimer’s” is not that amyloid has become a pharmaceutical target of exaggerated importance, but that pharmaceutical approaches are themselves viewed as the best way to prevent dementia and improve quality of life of people today and in the future. So-called Alzheimers is not one condition and dementia is related to aging. Public health, educational, and arts approaches embedded in community will continue to better address our social and ecological challenges, not only having to do with dementia but in general. Neoliberal politics have created vast social and economic inequities that contribute to social determinants of poor brain and general health. We need to not only recognize that we have poorly thought through, bad ideas about the role of amyloid in the brain but worst conceptions of Alzheimer’s in our minds and societies.

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