(Leah Nash for the Washington Post)

The Daily Tonic: Alzheimer’s Pharma Fraud, Instagram Is Irritating, And More

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Fabricating the results of a study should be illegal. Oh wait… it is illegal.

Every now and then, we have to put on our hard-hitting-journalist hats over at the Daily Tonic and when it comes to this specific story, consider the hats on. Just last week, an exhaustive investigation covered by Science magazine dropped a bombshell on what has been widely accepted as the prevailing hypothesis behind the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. You can also check out a streamlined version of the story from our partners at 247Health.com: Alzheimer’s Research is More Corruption Than Settled Science.

A six month investigation found that a key 2006 study published in Nature magazine that has served as the basis for this Alzheimer’s hypothesis may have included fabricated data. And this wasn’t just some small adjustments of data. According to an expert in neuroscience imagery, the evidence strongly suggests that actual images in the study were altered. 

That’s right. Scientists (allegedly) didn’t like the results they were getting, so they went full on photoshop on the brain imaging from their study as if they were high schoolers fudging the grades on their report card (allegedly). 

Fast forward 16 years later and this now infamous 2006 Nature paper has been cited in about 2300 scholarly articles. That is literally every single research paper studying Alzheimer’s published since 2006 except for four. There has been over $287 million of funding poured into these studies and if these new allegations are true, it was all based on fraud.

So what exactly is this Alzheimer’s disease hypothesis that is now in question?

For the past decade plus, almost all Alzheimer’s research has focused its attention on the theory that this disease is primarily caused by the build-up of plaque, called amyloid beta, in the brain.

The 2006 study that is now in question further supported this hypothesis and claimed to identify the specific subtype of amyloid responsible for causing Alzheimer’s. Once this specific subtype was identified, it opened the floodgates for further research and of course—the development of potential pharmaceutical solutions for this disease.

There are as many as 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s today, so naturally the potential of finding a cure would excite Big Pharma execs and bring dollar signs to their eyes (oh, I am sure they also just want to help people and make the world a better place). 

Based on this now questionable research, Biogen fast tracked their drug, Aduhelm, through the FDA approval process late last year. Despite mixed results in clinical trials, the FDA approved Aduhelm, which was a controversial decision at the time and an even more controversial decision given what we know today. 

And the kicker to all this? Biogen is now fast tracking another Alzheimer’s drug through the FDA approval process. The problem is that this new drug, lecanemab, is also designed to address the same protein plaque build up hypothesis that was supported by the 2006 Nature paper (the one with the photoshopped results… allegedly). 

The key takeaway? Who knows what to believe at this point. Maybe Big Pharma is all a bunch of stand up citizens that would never lie or try to fast track a drug based on fraudulent data just to make a few (million) bucks. 

What we do know is that by prioritizing your health with proper nutrition, daily movement, quality sleep, and adequate hydration, you can significantly reduce your risk of negative health outcomes in the future—Alzheimer’s included. 

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