THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 07 November 2019 (Chasing the cure (Indian Express))

Chasing the cure (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: Alzheimer
Mains level: Key findings about the new Alzheimer’s drug

Context

  • For nearly two decades, doctors treating Alzheimer’s patients have been frustrated by the lack of advance in medical research.
  • The most advanced drug that is used to treat the disease was developed in 2003.

Alzheimer

  • It was first identified in 1906 by the German physician, Alois Alzheimer.
  • Drugs currently in use treat the neuro-degenerative disorder symptomatically at best.
  • They leaving doctors almost helpless about elderly patients who may forget familiar facts and, at times, even the faces of family members.

Latest update

  • The new drug, Oligomannate, a sugar derived from a Chinese seaweed, works by modifying gut bacteria to reduce inflammation in the brain.
  • Green Valley, the Chinese biotech company that has developed the drug.
  • A clinical trial on 818 people “demonstrated solid and consistent cognition improvement among those treated versus a control group”.
  • The method adopted by the Chinese researchers is a departure from Alzheimer’s drug development that has focussed on attacking the plaque that forms in the brains of patients; this protein build-up interferes with neural signaling.
  • Last year, pharma major El Lilly threw in the towel during the final stages of trials of a drug that targets the plaque accumulation in brain cells, leading researchers to think of alternate disease pathways — the microbiome, for instance.

Way ahead

  • However there is a good reason for tempering the optimism around the new drug.
  • In China, the regulatory agency has asked Green Valley to conduct more research on Oligomannate’s safety it has, however, allowed the company to market the drug by the last week of December.
  • The complete data on how exactly the cognitive function improved for patients on the drug versus those on placebo and how meaningful that was in the patients’ lives is still not known outside select circles in China.
  • Oligomannate must be tested on diverse groups of people to be affirmed as a panacea for Alzheimer’s globally. And, these trials need to include many more than 818 individuals.

Conclusion

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Solar-powered Aquila drone is being specially designed to
a) Perform surveillance of sensitive areas in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of USA armed forces.
b) Deliver internet service to remote areas of the world.
c) Transport retail consumer packets to mega corporations in the European countries.
d) Generate solar power and transit it wirelessly to regions facing acute power scarcity.

Correct Answer: B
Mains Questions:

Q.1) What is Alzheimer disease? How the new Alzheimer’s drug offers hope for treating a difficult disease?


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