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Genetic Linkage

Alzheimer’s Treatments in the Pipeline and the False Promise of Prevagen: Distinguishing Hope from Hype

 
 
 

The avalanche of TV ads for Prevagen that coincided with my reaching Medicare age has inspired me to investigate what's coming for Alzheimer's disease (AD) – real treatments. Prevagen is not that.

 

Deceptive Advertising

 

The scenes, unending lest they immediately vanish from the viewer's disintegrating memory, show gorgeous older folks, especially couples, enjoying life and claiming that Prevagen keeps them thinking clearly, implying that they wouldn't have otherwise. A banner on the lower right proclaims "Prevagen improves memory." Yet there's no evidence that this is in fact true.

 

Prevagen pitches don't mention the class action lawsuit against Quincy Bioscience that was settled in 2020. Customers who had their receipt could get $70 back, and those who didn't, a generous $12. The red flag? Those claims to improve memory.

 

Prevagen, a "brain health supplement" and not a drug, falls into that regulatory backwater for products skirting rigorous clinical trials. The settlement demanded the company stop the claims, but "Buy Prevagen® Brain Health & Memory Improvement Supplements" appears instantly on Google. The asterisk above "Supplements" is the standard disclaimer: "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."

 

To continue reading, go to my DNA Science blog at Public Library of Science, where this post first appeared.

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Genetic Modifiers: Healthy Mutants Fuel Drug Discovery

Disease-causing mutations in healthy people suggest new drug targets. (NHGRI)
I’m uneasy counseling a patient for mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 cancer susceptibility genes. Typically, she’ll have a “first degree relative” – usually a mother or sister – with a related cancer, or might even have a test result in hand. This happened a week ago.

FUZZY GENETIC INFORMATION
My patient comes from a long line of female relatives who’d died young from breast or ovarian cancer. She’s already been tested and knows she has a BRCA1 mutation. Will she get the family’s cancer? Knowing would enable her to decide whether and when to undergo surgery to remove her breasts, ovaries, and uterus. Read More 
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