I am learning about loss this month it seems. I found out that a teacher, Jerry Samuel Workman, who was like a father to me was dying of stage 4 colorectal cancer September 24. I had a second date that day with a wonderful woman I had met the previous weekend. The two dates that we had were happy affairs, but she was going to San Diego for a week to visit her sons and make some money on some jobs. I drove out to Pecos, TX where I grew up to see him, tell him I loved him, and say goodbye on October 1st. He died on October 6, 2011. I drove back to Pecos, TX for his memorial service, October 8th. That was a sad day. The world has lost a good man who was an excellent educator who helped build a better world and better people. The woman has not returned any emails, texts, or phone calls. It's been almost three weeks now. Chances are I won't see her again which is heartbreaking because she was a sweet, wonderful woman who was a lot of fun to be with. She was very wise, but she didn't realize how wise she was. So, I've lost a man who had a profound effect on my life and probably a woman who brought out the best in me as much I brought out the best in her.
Labels: Lesson in loss
Recent findings suggest that Alzheimer's might be an infectious prion disease
. Why it's taken so long for someone to think of and perform this experiment is beyond me, but now someone has. If these results hold up, then I am not sure if progress will be made or not in curing Alzheimer's disease. Prion diseases are diseases where a protein causes correct copies of itself to fold in a different conformation that is pathogenic and harmful to the cells. Prion diseases in mammals tend to affect the brain and lead to death. They are not curable currently. I know that people are trying to find drugs that reverse the folding allowing the proteins to resume their normal function, but I know of no significant results of that strategy yet.
However, knowledge is a good thing. If we know that a misfolded protein is the cause of Alzheimer's then we should be able to find out what causes the misfolding and which people will be susceptible. Alternatively, there could be two or more versions of Alzheimer's, since there is an inherited version of the disease. In the inherited form, the mutant variant of the protein may be able to misfold spontaneously and cause the disease de novo. In the other form, a person may have to ingest contaminated meat or animal products to get the disease. Those affected may have another variant of the protein as well.
Until the results are reproduced and verified independently, people should not worry. If they are verified, then Alzheimer's research will be turned on it's ear, but then, real progress can then be made.
Labels: Alzheimer's prions misfolding