27 May 2016

Alzheimer's: Is amyloid-β peptide the real culprit?

An interesting new perspective on Alzheimer's has just been put forth. The following is the abstract from a recent 2016 paper:

A protein called Aβ is thought to cause neuronal death in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Aβ forms insoluble aggregates in the brains of patients with AD, which are a hallmark of the disease. Aβ and its propensity for aggregation are widely viewed as intrinsically abnormal. However, in new work, Kumar et al. show that Aβ is a natural antibiotic that protects the brain from infection. Most surprisingly, Aβ aggregates trap and imprison bacterial pathogens. It remains unclear whether Aβ is fighting a real or falsely perceived infection in AD. However, in any case, these findings identify inflammatory pathways as potential new drug targets for treating AD.

9 May 2016

Another Country

I just finished reading Baldwin's 1962 novel Another Country. The story explores a number of previously taboo themes (inter-racial and bisexual love, especially). It shows clear signs of having been written over a long period of time. Some parts of the novel--including the initial and final sections--are terribly written, whereas a few of the later sections are quite brilliant. The writer makes the surprising move of killing off the main character in the beginning of the story. On the other hand, the tendency of virtually all the novel's men, who are for the most part initially described as heterosexual, to suddenly jump into each other's beds is farcical to say the least. (This would be great fodder for a Saturday Night Live skit.) The editor who accepted the manuscript deserves some of the blame. Baldwin was famous at this point, but the editor really should  have sent the draft back for major revisions. Entire sections and plot lines should have been cut.