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After years of failed attempts to treat Alzheimer’s disease by targeting a toxic brain plaque called amlyoid, a critical mass of scientists turned their attention to a seemingly more promising target: a tangled cranial protein called tau. But the failure of a closely watched tau treatment suggests history may repeat itself for neurology’s next-best idea.

On Wednesday, the Swiss drug maker AC Immune said its anti-tau antibody missed its primary and secondary goals in a placebo-controlled study that enrolled more than 450 people with early-stage Alzheimer’s. 

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  • It’s not “a toxic brain plaque called amlyoid”. Plaques are made of a type of amyloid called amyloid-beta plus other non-amyloid components. And it’s not clear that they’re toxic. They may be a protective reaction to an environmental threat, such as a pathogen or a chemical toxin.

  • Scientific breadcrumbs is a great description of the amyloid hypothesis’ very slow demise.

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