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"Drugs may reverse memory loss: study"

Vancouver Sun

Source: Vancouver Sun

Published: 30 Apr 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (2 stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

PARIS - Degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimers, could one day be treated with drugs that can reverse distressing loss of memory, according to a study released Sunday.
The very term "memory loss" could be a misnomer in such cases, suggests the study, published in British journal Nature: that cherished recollection of a first kiss, seemingly destroyed by disease, may have simply been rendered inaccessible by obstructed neural pathways.
In laboratory experiments, mice suffering the type of brain damage which in humans typically leads to dementia - robbing victims of the ability to remember past events or even to recognize loved ones - were able to recover memories acquired during earlier conditioning, according to the study carried out by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology....

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 3 of 8
Availability of Treatment Not Applicable
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Not Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Applicable
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Media Doctor typically doesn't review stories based on purely animal studies but made an exception in this case seeing as this story was on the front page of the paper. This news articles shares the findings of a study that explored strategies for restoring memory loss in mice. According to the article, the researchers tested at least two strategies: an "environmental enhancement" strategy; and a therapeutic strategy, using an enzyme inhibitor.

Although this research is preliminary (e.g., the news article suggests the enzyme inhibitor "could be the basis for a pharmaceutical treatment for memory loss"), the news article makes bold statements for a possible cure for memory loss in humans in the headline and lead. All of the important caveats about the preliminary nature of these findings appear on the second page of the story (which appears on page five of the newspaper). Unless readers turn the page, they are left with a false impression about a therapy to cure such brain diseases as Alzheimers and dementia. These caveats should be less convoluted and appear in the lead of the news article.

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