Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

The Medical Research Industrial Complex is Anti-Science

An article in The Free Press today, discussing the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, highlights how the Medical Research Industrial Complex over decades has stifled research on new therapeutics for the disease.

When you come across articles like this you have to realize the same issues persist in any scientific research field. That goes for COVID vaccine research, Climate Change, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer and any other field of research where there are billions of dollars at stake. Scientists are human and have the same bias and greed as any other human.

One way to understand the persistence of the amyloid theory is to look at the incentives of big academic medicine, big governmental medicine, and big pharma. For decades, time, effort, and money have been sunk into this single hypothesis. If we just make the right intervention in the process of amyloid being deposited in the brain, the logic goes, Alzheimer’s can be beaten. 

Acknowledging that this theory may be a dead end would mean entire careers and billions of dollars have all been devoted to the wrong idea. Not only that—there is no clear path to the right one. 

Dr. Dennis Selkoe, Professor of Neurologic Diseases at Harvard Medical School, is among the most prominent supporters of the amyloid hypothesis. He’s not happy about accusations of a cabal. “It’s my opinion that there was never any kind of organized or even semi-organized or concerted effort to delegate any aspect of Alzheimer’s research to an inferior position and heighten amyloid studies,” he told me. “Like everything in science and the world, it was a competition of ideas.” He says some of his own amyloid grants have been rejected, and journals have turned down some of his papers. “That’s just part of academic research.”

For many years the powers-that-be within the neuroscience community—researchers who sit on the committees that determine who gets financial support from the government and research organizations, and who review research papers for medical journals to determine what should be published—supported the amyloid hypothesis to the virtual exclusion of any others. As Sharon Begley described it, amyloid proponents “influenced what studies got published in top journals, which scientists got funded, who got tenure, and who got speaking slots at reputation-buffing scientific conferences.”

All it takes is one member of a granting committee (typically, they have a dozen members) or one of the usual three or so reviewers of a research article to kill a project. Cabal or not—and while I think there’s groupthink going on, I don’t think amyloid proponents are engaging in a “conspiracy” —the frustration of the suppressed scientists was and is palpable, and has sent some talented researchers to other fields.

Rachael Neve is one. 

Neve says her contact for grants at the National Institutes of Health told her she’d have a better chance of getting her research funded if she included someone who was an advocate of the amyloid hypothesis on her proposals. She was, at the time, finding indications that non-amyloid parts of the protein she and others had identified were killing brain cells on their own. She repeatedly saw research articles by herself and others get rejected by top-tier scientific journals. “It was dispiriting to see beautiful papers that proposed alternatives to the amyloid hypothesis relegated to second and third echelon journals again and again,” she wrote me in an e-mail.

Neve eventually left the Alzheimer’s field because she was disillusioned by the heavy focus on amyloids. “The amyloid hypothesis is one of the most tragic stories in modern biomedical research,” Neve wrote to me in an email. “The field of Alzhiemer’s disease research has effectively been at a standstill because of that.”

Where is the Cure for Alzheimer’s – The Free Press

Elevating scientists and “the science” to being above reproach has harmed Western Civilization and will continue to do so until the megalomaniacs like Dr. Anthony Fauci are rooted out of governing institutions. Fauci isn’t in this article but it’s people like him and Dr. Francis Collins, former Director of the National Institutes of Health, that seemed more concerned with group-think and their cozy cabals than actual science. They act like their in high school cliques. If you’re not in the clique then good luck getting your research funded.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay