Drug research raises hopes of Alzheimers breakthrough

Researchers at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington DC on Wednesday reported on trials of experimental drugs – developed by pharma giants Eli Lilly and Biogen, which appear to display encouraging signs of being able to slow the disease.

But, as NBC’s Maggie Fox writes, as in many such cases, there’s a danger of headline hype getting ahead of practical applications.

[the drugs are] not even close to being a cure, experts said — and they’re also not close to being on the market.

Dr. David Knopman of the Mayo Clinic said he knew headlines would have his patients asking about when they can get the drugs.

“How am I going talk to my patients on Friday?” he said at a news conference. “These results aren’t going to lead to something they can get next week. What you are hearing here represents solid advances.”


(Financial Times/Tomorrow’s Papers Today)

Andrew Ward at the FT writes:

Eli Lilly hopes its solanezumab drug can help ease the cost of Alzheimer’s on society while delivering a multibillion-dollar windfall for the company by allowing patients to remain independent for longer.

Analysts cautioned that the drug’s fate would remain in the balance until the results from a further big clinical trial are reported late next year. Many previous Alzheimer’s studies have failed at this stage, causing heavy financial losses.


* WORLD * Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz brief Congress on Thursday on details of the Iran nuclear deal.

Watch live here on C-Span

They write in a joint op-ed at the Washington Post:

We recognize that Iran remains a threat to stability in the Middle East. That danger is precisely why this deal is so necessary and why we fought so hard for the multilateral arms embargo to remain in place for five years and the embargo on ballistic missiles for eight. U.S. sanctions related to terrorism, human rights and missiles will also continue.

A nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to our allies in the Middle East, as well as to the United States and the international community. By taking this threat off the table, this deal makes it far less complicated to address the many other problems that we have with Iran’s regional actions.

NBC‘s Richard Engel also reports that Kerry says diplomats are “working very hard” on the case of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who on Wednesday marked one year  in detention in Iran.

Meanwhile thousands of anti-Iran deal protesters gathered in New York’s Times Square.

The Greek parliament voted to approve a second tranche of reform measures tied to a potential bailout by the country’s creditors. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was successful in restraining a rebellion by members of his Syriza party. Reuters reports:

The legislation easily passed with the backing of 230 votes in the 300-seat chamber, once again due to opposition support.

But 36 Syriza deputies – or almost a quarter of the party’s 149 lawmakers – voted against the overall bill or abstained, though significantly for Tsipras that was a smaller rebellion than the 39 deputies who defied him in last week’s vote.

The White House is apparently in the “final stages” of a plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. But the New York Times reports that 

The administration’s fitful effort to shut down the prison is collapsing again. Ashton B. Carter, in his first six months as defense secretary, has yet to make a decision on any newly proposed deals to transfer individual detainees. His delay, which echoes a pattern last year by his predecessorChuck Hagel, is generating mounting concern in the White House and State Department, officials say.

There are ongoing developments late on Wednesday in the disturbing case of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in a Texas police cell following a traffic stop.


* POLITICS * A new Quinnipiac opinion poll indicates that if Hillary Clinton is eventually the Democratic presidential nominee, she continues to face strong opposition in a key group of swing states, regardless of who her opponent would be. MSNBC reports:

Back in April, Quinnipiac found Clinton leading the majority of those same hypothetical contests. But the likely cause of that declining support may be more concerning to Clinton than the poll’s headline results – majorities in all three states said they believe Clinton is “not honest or trustworthy.”

While of course it’s too early to take any poll seriously, this one’s just completely nonsensical..

On the GOP side, it was Rick Perry’s turn to take a pop at Donald Trump, calling him “the kind of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House.”

He had a great line about the “empty calories of Trumpism” but as Ezra Klein points out, this emerging trend is as much about the accusers generating ink for themselves as it is about admonishing their party’s bogeyman.

Trump himself, meanwhile, is headed to the US-Mexican border on Thursday, telling Fox and Friends “I may never see you again, but we’re going to do it.”

Another lower-tier Republican, Gov Chris Christie has apparently changed his tune, as it were, but luckily no-one apparently noticed.


* BUSINESS * Health insurer Anthem is “close to finalizing negotiations to acquire peer Cigna Inc and could announce a roughly $48 billion deal as early as this week,” Reuters reports.

The New York state wage board unanimously recommended that the minimum wage for fast food workers should be increased to $15 an hour.

Meanwhile New York backed down temporarily in an ongoing dispute with car service app Uber, over limits on the number of vehicles the service operates in the city.


* MEDIA * In an extensive and interesting profile for The Independent, Peter Oborne looks at Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, his views on the BBC and his plans for the Corporation.

John Whittingdale’s views on the BBC repay inspection because the organisation’s charter comes up for renewal next year. The new Culture Secretary is the spokesman for a very powerful body of right-wing opinion that has long been determined to weaken and even to destroy the BBC as a national institution, and clearly sees its opportunity in the wake of the 2015 general election victory.

There are two fundamental grounds for this assault on the BBC. One is connected to neoliberal dogma. Right-wingers ask why a publicly funded body should be asked to produce mass entertainment, when the private sector is capable of carrying out the same function just as well if not better. The neoliberals would therefore like to slim the BBC down to a handful of core functions, above all news and current affairs, which the market is unable to provide.

The BBC itself, meanwhile, appointed its first female political editor. Laura Kuenssberg will take over from Nick Robinson, who will join Radio Four’s Today program in the autumn.


(Daily Telegraph)


* SPORTS * Jamaica will play Mexico in the final of soccer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup on Sunday in Philadelphia. The underdog Reggae Boyz upset the United States 2-1, while in the other – somewhat chaotic and ugly – semi-final, Mexico came from a goal down to beat Panama through two Andres Guardado penalties.

This Mexican commentator even credited the American referee with Mexico’s first goal, after a controversial call led to a late spot-kick equalizer for El Tri.



Everyone’s – literally – a critic..

and, of course,


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